Great Expectations Title Significance Essay

1871 words - 7 pages

Everyone in life struggles to live up to what others and society expects them to be in life, the next Harvard Graduate, or the next new celebrity. But, these expectations can begin to define a person if he believes he has to conform to society's expectations. In Charles Dickens novel "Great Expectations", young Pip feels the pressure from society and his love, Estella, to become a gentleman. By attempting to rise in his social class Pip then abandons his previous good morals and his family members when he moves to London. Each character has aspirations for Pip which he believes he must fulfill in order to succeed in life. He also sets expectations for his friends and family and becomes disappointed when they do not meet his aspirations. The pressure from all the characters and the pressure he puts on others eventually diminish Pip's ideals, because he believes that he must please everyone. These Great Expectations pressured on Pip define the storyline of the novel and the progression of each character. Therefore, In Charles Dicken's novel "Great Expectations", the title plays a significant role due to Pip's struggle with the fact he cannot live for himself, but rather is focused on living up to standards placed on him and others.
First, Pip has great expectations Joe. At the beginning of the novel, Pip expects Joe to be a fatherly figure, and protect him from Mrs. Joe and Pip "looking up to Joe in [his] heart" (Dickens 86). Joe and Pip are friends and rely on one another to survive their home life by warning one another when Mrs. Joe "went on the rampage" [173]. However, after Pip receives his benefactor and money, he expects Joe to be a different person than himself. He expects Joe, like himself, overnight, to go from "being coarse and common" [228], like Pip used to be, to become well mannered and wealthy. Joe falls short of this expectation and is caught of guard because Pip's "change of fortune and prospects, ... ha[s] changed [his] companions" (419). Pip used to share the same values as Joe and appreciate the humble life they had. Although, Pip now believes Joe should be more successful, Joe still has the same job because "[he] is competent to fill [it], and fills [it] well and with respect" (265) and Pip is then disgusted by Joe and his family's poverty. This leaves Joe and Biddy left confused by Pip's drastic character change and become angry that Pip expects them to have more wealth than they have. Pip acts disgusted by Joe and says if he were to "remove Joe into a higher sphere, ... [his manners] would hardly do him justice". (264) implying that his manners are terrible. Pip expects Joe to suddenly change, but in reality, he is the one who has undergone a drastic transformation. He suddenly wishes Joe had been rather "more genteelly brought up, and then [he] should have been so" (92). He wants "to make Joe less ignorant and common, that he might be worthier of [his] society and less open to Estella's reproach" (193). Furthermore, Pip...

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