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Both Miss Havisham and Magwitch are powerful influences on Pips life,

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Pip's "shadow parents" Sam Miranda S4A Both Miss Havisham and Magwitch are powerful influences on Pip's life, in a psychological, and to some extent physical, manner. In this essay, I hope to explore these influences, and investigate what affects they have on Pip's development. Naturally, the fact that Pip is an orphan, and never knew his parents, means there is space for characters to come in and exact a definite, parental control. The novel echoes many of Dickens's own life experiences- he had a strained relationship with his parents when they were condemned to imprisonment for debt difficulties. The sense of abandonment and sudden awareness of the fragility of class distinctions he experienced during this time was to haunt him for the rest of his life, and this is mirrored by the great contrast in, "shadow parents." On the one hand we have the wealthy Miss Havisham, inhabiting a decaying yet grand mansion, and on the other we have a hardened criminal emerging from the gloomy marshes. The opening chapter gives the reader a powerful idea of how Pip is suffering from having no identity, as Pip seeks to find his role in an inhospitable world. The windswept, barren place of mud, mist and water provides the perfect setting for a frantic convict to emerge. In his search for his origins, Pip seems to have created "a second father" in Magwitch, who turns him upside down metaphorically as well as literally, and places him on his parents' tombstone. ...read more.


Pip's consciousness of his class, and thus dissatisfaction with his origins, leads him to believe that the rich Miss Havisham is his secret benefactor. Pip thus becomes alarmed when the true identity of the benefactor is revealed, because Magwitch brings him back his criminal relations and throws him back to his growing up at the forge. Once again, this time at a more critical stage, Pip is hindered in his quest to become a gentleman. From the start of his search into the 'identity of things' the reader follows Pip's progress as he moves through a world of confusing and conflicting signs. Part of the growing of drama in the novel is the way that Pip wilfully ' misreads' clues to the origin of his expectations. Guilt and a sense of responsibility are permanently printed on the consciousness from the beginning and for most of the end narrative he seeks to contain them. He is in denial about his early, " criminal," past and finds it impossible to confess to Joe. When Magwitch eventually reveals himself as the source of Pip's expectations, Pip' shock is more powerful because we sense that the knowledge has been repressed but indistinctly known all along. It has been a necessary and essential part of Pip's guilt-torn personality. The true psychological effects of Miss Havisham are depicted early on in the novel, as Pip expresses his dissatisfaction of the class he is bound to: ...read more.


feels obliged to inflict pain on the entire male race, where as one could say Magwitch's poor, criminal background has distanced Pip from Estella's radiance. In conclusion, Magwitch and Miss Havisham exact definite psychological, even physical, influences on Pip, both acting as his, "shadow parents". Although to some extent Jaggers, Joe and Mrs Joe are, "shadow parents," the characters of Magwitch and Miss Havisham are particularly significant in Pip's development. They seem to reverse their supposed roles in Great Expectations, and although there are omens and hints of change, the reader expects Magwitch to maintain his criminal, violent attributes, and return to menace Pip, and Miss Havisham to be his saviour and helper in his quest to become a gentleman. In a journal format, Dickens needed to employ many plot twists, as Magwitch turns out to be the mysterious benefactor, and Miss Havisham the manipulative monster who psychologically hurts and confuses Pip in so many ways. It is difficult to say who is the "best" shadow parent, because although Magwitch supplies the money which sees Pip through becoming a gentleman, in his own mind Pip is motivated by Miss Havisham and has visions of achieving great wealth and wedding Estella. If we look at the novel in hindsight, we can conclude that Magwitch is the superior "shadow parent" as he is clearly dedicated to helping Pip, where as Miss Havisham does nothing but psychologically twist him. Word count 2,338 ...read more.

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