Learn From Your Mistakes Essay

1143 words - 5 pages

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else.” In his novel, Great Expectations, Charles Dickens exemplifies Ralph’s belief and conveys that when a person has gone wrong in life, a trauma or pain can help him or her return to a better path. All through the novel, characters such as Pip, Miss Havisham, and Magwitch illustrate this theme through the decisions they made in life and where those decisions took them.
Throughout the novel, Pip goes through a lot of events that transforms him as a person. At the start of the novel, Pip, an uneducated and naïve little boy, does not care about social class and is happy with what he has. But as he grows, he meets people from both social classes, who change his views and cause him to think things such as: “…deeply revolving that I was a common labouring-boy; that my hands were coarse; that my boots were thick; that I had fallen in a despicable habit of calling knaves jacks; that I was much more ignorant than I had considered myself last night; and generally that I was in a low-lived bad way,” (Page 67). This alludes to the Garden of Eden, where the snake influenced Eve to eat the apple and caused her and Adam their downfall. However, in Great Expectations, the snake would be Estella, who influences Pip to change his views and makes him believe that money and social class are everything. Dickens also uses diction such as “common labouring-boy”, “hands were coarse”, boots were thick”, “despicable habit”, and “ignorant”, to show that Pip thinks it is a bad thing to belong from an uneducated family. However, as he grows and goes through many experiences and events, he becomes aware of what he has been doing wrong. At the end of the novel, where Joe comes to meet Pip when he is ill, Pip says, “‘Oh, Joe, you break my heart! Look angry at me, Joe. Strike me, Joe. Tell me of my ingratitude. Don’t be so good to me!’”(Page 493). With the use of irony that Pip accuses Joe of “[breaking his] heart”— which Pip did himself many times to his own family and friends— and with the constant use of “me” and “Joe” Dickens indicates that Pip now understands the true value of family and friendship, which is not essentially about having money or belonging to a higher class, but to have people who care.
Determined to regain both control and dignity revolving from her betrayal, Miss Havisham chooses her lifestyle. The first time Pip meets her at the Satis House, he describes her as the following: “I should have felt almost sure that Miss Havisham’s face could not smile… and it looked as if nothing could ever lift it up again… altogether, she had the appearance of having dropped, body and soul, within and without, under the weight of a crushing blow,” (Page 63). The “weight of a crushing blow” symbolizes the weight of revenge she seeks. In reference to what happened to her, she uses her adopted daughter, Estella, and Pip to...

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