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DISCUSS DICKENS' PRESENTATION OF PIP'S AMBITION TO BECOME A GENTLEMAN AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF HIS CHARACTER

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Introduction

TOM SORENSEN 4EX DECEMBER 04 DISCUSS DICKENS' PRESENTATION OF PIP'S AMBITION TO BECOME A GENTLEMAN AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE MORAL DEVELOPMENT OF HIS CHARACTER Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations in 1861 during the Industrial Revolution. It was a time of great social change including from an agrarian to an industrial society, a rural to an urban society and from a stable to a mobile society. The gap between aristocracy and the middle classes became blurred and overlapped because merchants and factory owners could become much more powerful and wealthy and so could actually 'bridge the gap'. As the society became unstable the poor got poorer and the rich got richer. Dickens was concerned by the poverty and the problems of the underprivileged and this is reflected in many of his books for example: 'Great Expectations', 'Oliver Twist' and 'Hard Times'. The highest class was often called the 'Ladies' and 'Gentlemen'. The term Gentleman has many different definitions and it became more difficult to define as class boundaries became blurred. In Dickens' time it was all a matter of money and breeding and living a life of luxury, and this is what Pip aspired to. Dickens uses Pip's older self to comment on his younger self and in effect tell the story. The drawback is, however, that you can only look into Pip's mind and see his feelings and emotions, no-one else's. Dickens introduces the question of identity at the beginning of the novel; he presents Pip on the first page unsure of his identity and therefore "called myself Pip". All his close family are dead and so he has no guidance in life apart from his unkind sister and her husband Joe. ...read more.

Middle

In Chapter 34 Dickens presents the start of Pip's gradual moral recovery, although this is slow to begin as Pip and Herbert join the Finches of the Grove, a very expensive gentleman's club who dined luxuriously and "spent a lot of money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make their minds up to give us". They had no purpose apart from self gratification. Pip finally understands as he gets more and more into debt the effect this is having on Herbert: "My lavish habits led his easy nature into expenses he could not afford, corrupted the simplicity of his life and disturbed his peace with anxieties and regrets" As Pip grows accustomed to his great expectations he's not comfortable and battles with his conscience over actions and feelings towards Joe and Biddy; he becomes wistful for his old life and thinks: "with a weariness on my spirit, that if I should have been happier and better if I had never seen Miss Havisham's face, and had risen to manhood content to be partners with Joe in the honest old forge" He yearns for the forge fire instead of his fire in his gentlemanly residence, and wants Joe and his old life back although does little to achieve this. In contrast Dickens himself did not inherit his wealth but publicly strived and worked hard to achieve his goals, in fact one of the factors of his death was over working and so possibly didn't approve of the idle rich's lavish lives and spending. Dickens uses Magwitch's revelation and Pip's reaction to show Pip's moral degeneration. ...read more.

Conclusion

It symbolises a new beginning for Little Pip and that Big Pip will take the place of Magwitch as a guardian angel and second father to Little Pip just like Magwitch was to him. It is ironic that at the start of the novel that Pip was repulsed by the convict but now at the end of the novel he loves him and is taking on Magwitch's role and persona. Dickens again presents the image of Satis house has being torn down to symbolise the end of Pips moral diversity. Dickens uses the ivy as a symbol of Pip's new start in the east and his reassessed morals. Like the ivy, Pip "had struck root anew and was growing green on low quiet mounds of ruin" Another new beginning is Pip being reunited with Estella, in the previous era she was untouchable even with Pip's money and luxurious life, but now Estella has understood that being a gentleman is not all about money but about the good morals and experience that Pip has developed through out the novel. I feel that at the end Pip is a real gentleman, but in today's standards, he values love, friendship, sincerity and kindness more than social status, he is living a life of his own making and that he earns honestly. He was only a gentleman in Victorian, upper-class eyes when he had great wealth and expensive habits and didn't necessarily have any standards. This gives us an indication that although Dickens was a Victorian he thought that a gentleman should be like the later Pip and he presents and demonstrates this view by the way he presents Pip's moral development during the novel in the relations between Pip, Joe, and Magwitch. ...read more.

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