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Explore Dickens notion of what it means to be a true gentleman in

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Introduction

Explore Dickens' notion of what it means to be "a true gentleman" in Great Expectations Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens which tells the story of Pip, a blacksmith's apprentice in his journey to fulfil his ambition to become a true gentleman. The characters that Pip encounters along the way demonstrate different aspects of what it means to be a gentleman or the reverse of one. It is in the bildungs roman genre and analyses the Victorian concept of social class and gentlemanly behaviour. In those times to be a gentleman meant to be wealthy and esteemed but Dickens views are very different from the normal stereotype. Very early on Pip displays his gentlemanly qualities, even at such a young age. For instance Pip meets a convict in the starting chapters, and agrees to provide food and a file to remove the leg iron from his leg. But when he gets home he is fighting a battle within himself between stealing from his sister and keeping his promise with the convict. However on the other hand he could be thought to have portrayed to have ungentle manlike qualities in this section because he does not actually do it to help Magwitch but does it because he is so terrified of Magwitch since he threatened to "cut out your and your liver." The reader can tell this because the phrase "mortal terror" is used by Pip three times in one paragraph. This use of repetition exemplifies the dread and foreboding that Pip is feeling. In the next chapter we meet Joe, Pip's adopted father who as Pip says is a "mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear fellow." This statement shows the reader Joe's qualities. He has strong morals as seen when he scolds Pip for lying and is very protective over Pip. It also proves that Pip is able to see the good in people and not just focus on what people need to do to improve themselves. ...read more.

Middle

But he then goes on to say "she was not beautiful - she was common and could be not like Estella." This is another example of what was said earlier on. It shows how Pip manages to see the good in Biddy but it shows how he goes on to compare her to someone else. However there is a change as of before Pip compared Joe to himself and his stereotype of a perfect gentleman; now he is comparing Biddy to Estella. The reader can tell from the extract above that Pip is only just noticing Biddy for what she is really like because it says "I became conscious of a change in Biddy" and "her hair grew bright" this seems to suggest that to him she was not like that before which shows that the change has not actually happened to Biddy, but to Pip. This is not at all a gentlemanlike characteristic because he is just appreciating her for her similarities to Estella, not for what she is truly like. A couple of chapters later on in the novel Pip is about to leave for London thanks to a mysterious benefactor. As he leaves Joe and Biddy both throw an old shoe after him for good luck. "I walked away at a good pace, thinking it was easier to go than I had supposed it would be, and reflecting that it would never have done to have and old shoe thrown after the coach, in sight of all the High Street. I whistled and made nothing of going". But soon another side of Pip is revealed as he feels very emotional at the fact that he has to leave the village that he has lived in for his whole life and is conscious of his own ingratitude. These emotions show a caring and thoughtful side of Pip that we have never seen before. ...read more.

Conclusion

Later on in the novel Pip has told Herbert about Magwitch but Herbert does not rush out to the nearest police station but accepts Pip and "received me with open arms, and I had never before felt so blessedly, what it is to have a friend." Hebert has this incredible talent to make everyone around him feel good and happy to be friends with him. The phrase "open arms" signifies that Herbert doesn't have any qualms about helping Pip in whatever he needs to do, even though he is helping a known offender. This demonstrates Herbert's bravery, which for Dickens is an important quality of a gentleman. Matthew Pocket says, "No man who was not a true gentleman at heart, ever was, since the world began, a true gentle man in manner." He goes on to say that "'no varnish can hide the grain of wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself.'" Thus Dickens puts his idea across that was so controversial in the Victorian times, that a true gentleman is what is on the inside and what his actions are, not how wealthy he is or what his family heritage is. The egotistical and self-centred Drummle is exactly like the man in the metaphor described by Matthew Pocket. For instance he talks about Estella as a "peerless beauty", but he does not think about anything apart from what is on the exterior. In the same chapter Pip describes him to have a "blockhead confidence in his money and family greatness." This means that he is so confident in his affluence and family prominence that he assumes that he is untouchable and that he can get away with anything he wants to. He is the complete opposite of Dickens idea of what makes a true gentleman. Dickens's view is that to find a true gentleman you have look at what is on the inside, not what is on the outside or obvious to the eye. This is the main lesson Pip has learnt in the course of the novel Great Expectations. ...read more.

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