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“Great Expectations” has been described as the story of a “snob’s progress”. In the light of this comment, describe Pip’s development in the novel. Refer to the changes in the way he behaves and talks, the reactions of oth

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Introduction

"Great Expectations" has been described as the story of a "snob's progress". In the light of this comment, describe Pip's development in the novel. Refer to the changes in the way he behaves and talks, the reactions of other characters in the novel and the reasons why he normally retains the reader's sympathy. In "Great Expectations", Pip's character goes through many changes. His morals and outlook on life are both greatly affected by his lifestyle, and his view of other characters is changed by his experiences and surroundings. At the beginning of "Great Expectations", we see Pip as a very young child, living in fear of his sister, Mrs Joe Gargery. Joe is described in much the same way, which shows how he is childish at heart. We are told that Pip also sees this in chapter 2, when he tells us "I always treated him as a larger species of child". Pip and Joe both live in fear of Mrs Joe's regular "Ram-pages", and her wax coated cane, Tickler. Although Pip and Joe obviously fear Tickler, Pip never really speaks of his fear in the book. It is seen more as a part of his life than a painful experience. For example, when Pip arrives home late after his encounter with Magwitch and learns of Mrs Joe's "Ram-page", he is told by Joe that "Which is worse, she's got Tickler with her". Instead of showing fear, we are simply told that "At this dismal intelligence, I twisted the only button on my waistcoat round ...read more.

Middle

Mid way through the chapter he asks Biddy " 'How do you manage, Biddy,' said I, 'to learn everything that I learn, and always to keep up with me?' ". Biddy, however, does not respond in a hostile way, but lets Pip continue talking. Pip's dream of becoming a gentleman comes true when he is told about his benefactor by Mr Jaggers. Pip does not speak to Mr Jaggers unless he is addressed, but is seen arguing with him. Verbs such as "retorted", "demanded" and "cried" show us that Joe is not comfortable with Jaggers, much in the same way as he could not talk to Miss Havisham earlier in the novel. This leads us into the second stage of Pip's expectations, where he meets an array of new characters. As he learns to act like a gentleman, he begins to change a great deal. With his new circle of friends, including Herbert and Startop, he joins the "Finches of the Grove". Here his illusion of being a gentleman is temporarily destroyed when he attacks Drummle for declaring his love for Estella. This is the sort of reaction that you would expect from a blacksmith, not a rich London gentleman. This shows us that as hard as Pip tries to change himself, there will always be some of the apprentice blacksmith in him. The greatest change in Pip's actions are in his opinions of Joe. Pip speaks to Joe in an almost patronising manor, without realising that he is doing it. ...read more.

Conclusion

Although Pip has treated so many people so badly, he always seems to realise soon afterwards, and also admits that it is out of his control. This helplessness is a good device with which Pip keeps the reader's sympathy. The fact that the book is written in first person perspective also helps, as we can see from Pip's point of view, from which all of his decisions seem more rational. We are presented with his reasoning, and although we may not agree with it, it shows that he does not intend to do harm to anyone. One example of this is given when Pip stays at the Blue Boar, rather than with Joe. He says that he "began to invent reasons and make excuses for putting up at the Blue Boar", showing that he knows he is welcome with Joe, and knows that he has no good reason not to stay with him. The ending of "Great Expectations" is left open, with Pip in his thirties, speaking to Estella in the churchyard. Estella has been greatly changed by her unhappy marriage to Drummle, and she finally shows signs of "softness", "sympathy" and "sentiment". The end of the book takes place in the churchyard where the whole story began. This is very effective, as it is metaphorical of the changes in Pip. Of all the places he lived, and all of the changes he went through, he ended up back home wishing that he had never changed; wishing that he had grown up as a blacksmith; wishing that he could relive his life from this small village, thirty years ago. ...read more.

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