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Great Expectations By Jane Austen Essay

2402 words - 10 pages

Great Expectations by Jane Austen

There are two different types of gentleman are presented to the reader
throughout Great Expectations. The first is Pip's earlier definition,
where he finds a gentleman to be someone with wealth, "breeding",
education, and social status. This materialistic definition of a
gentleman is exactly like the description of Bentley Drummle, who,
however is obviously not a gentleman in behavior or manners - "...he
was idle, proud, niggardly, reserved and suspicious. He came of rich
people ... who had nursed this combination of qualities until they
made the discovery that it was just of age and a blockhead." One of
the aspects of being "gentlemanly" to Pip was education. When he
originally arrived in London, he was completely ignorant of common
etiquette and practice in company, and the way of doing things that
was assumed right - "He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!" says
Estella - Pip immediately begins to regret his background, and assumes
that as Estella says the knaves are not Jacks, this is the truth,
whereas in reality this is just a socially discriminate term. Herbert
helps to teach Pip the right way to do things - he remains very
polite, and the "pale young gentleman" goes out of his way not to
embarrass Pip whilst he corrects his social misdemeanors - ""...in
London it is not the custom to put the knife in the mouth - for fear
of accidents - and that while the fork is reserved for that use, it is
not put in further than necessary...Also, the spoon is not generally
used over-hand, but under..." He offered these friendly suggestions in
such a lively way, that we both laughed and I scarcely blushed."
Another aspect of ungentlemanly behavior offered in the novel is bad
manners. Mr. Jaggers, a well-to-do gentleman from London, offers Joe,
a country blacksmith, money for taking Pip off of his hands. This
offends Joe deeply, so much that he almost hits Mr. Jaggers - "Which I
meantersay...that if you come into my place bull-baiting and badgering
me, come out!". Joe only wishes for Pip's welfare, and cannot believe
that money would go any way to compensate for the loss of Pip. Jaggers
makes assumptions about Joe and Joe's values just because he is of a
poorer and lower class than he. The contrast between the stereotypical
view of a gentleman - Mr. Jaggers and Joe is so strong that you can
easily see which of them comes out of this situation as more of a
gentleman - Joe. The exterior vision of a gentleman becomes very
important to Pip in the earlier stages of the novel - the clothes and
general appearance of his surroundings obsess him to such a point that
he appoints the "Avenger" to serve on him. The Avenger, though
expensively dressed, seems to be absolutely ridiculous - dressed in a
canary yellow waistcoat. To him, gentlemen deserve respect, and once
...

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