Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a coming-of-age story written from December 1860 to 1861. Great Expectations follows the life of Phillip Pirrip, self-named Pip; as his “infant tongue could make of both name nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.” (I, Page 3) The story begins with Pip as a young child, destined to be the apprentice of his blacksmith brother-in-law, Joe Gargery. After spending time with an upper-class elderly woman, Miss Havesham and her adopted daughter, Estella, Estella, with whom he has fallen in love, he realizes that she could never love a person as common as himself, and his view on the social classes change. Pip’s view of society grows and changes with him, from anticipating the apprenticeship of Joe, to the idealization of the gentle class, and eventually turning to the disrespect of the lower class of which he once belonged. Although Pip may grow and physically mature, he did not necessarily grow to be a better person. He loses his childhood innocence and compassion, in exchange for the ways of the gentlemen.
Pip was an innocent and somewhat gullible child. When Abel had told him that, “There's a young man hid with me, in comparison with which young man I am an Angel,” (II, Page 6) as a threat to ensure that Pip would bring him the food without speaking a word of what he had seen, Pip not only believed the tale, but assumes another man in the marsh is the young man, on the way to bring Abel the food. “It's the young man!" I thought, feeling my heart shoot as I identified him. I dare say I should have felt a pain in my liver, too, if I had known where it was.” (III, Page 16) He also shows compassion to Abel, although frightened by his appearance during their exchange while Abel eats, "Did you speak?" "I said I was glad you enjoyed it." "Thankee, my boy. I do." (III, Page 18) At this time in his life, Pip is proud of who he is, he wants to buy much like his brother-in-law, Joe. Pip viewed being the apprentice to the blacksmith with pride. “When I was old enough, I was to be apprenticed to Joe, and until I could assume that dignity I was not to be what Mrs. Joe called "Pompeyed," or (as I render it) pampered.” (VII, Page 39) This affection to the trade and his parentage starts to fade as Pip enters his teenage years.
After Pip has spent time with Miss Havesham and Estella, Pip realizes that becoming the apprentice to the blacksmith is no longer what he wishes for in life. Pip wants to be with Estella, and he knows that the only way for that to happen is if he were to be a gentleman. He begins to see the gentle class as superior to the common folk, and that the common folk as low-lived.
I set off on the four-mile walk to our forge; pondering, as I went along, on all I had seen, and deeply revolving that I was a common labouring-boy; that my hands were coarse; that my boots were thick; that I had fallen into a despicable habit of...