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Explore Dickens' approach to the theme being a gentleman in key extracts of Great Expectations

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Introduction

"Explore Dickens' approach to the theme being a gentleman in key extracts of Great Expectations with particular reference to the social, historical and cultural influences of the text." What is a gentleman? A typical gentleman in modern day society is perceived as an alien concept. In 1463, a gentleman was defined as a man of rank but in 1583 a gentleman was said to be as a man of superior position or a man of leisure. However, in 1852 a gentleman was described as a wealthy man with no occupation. Yet, the traditional view of a gentleman was a man of gentle birth, a noble man who was not royalty, and a man of distinction. The first time we see Dickens use an instance of being a gentleman is in Chapter One through Pip's attitude towards the convict. As Magwitch orders Pip around, yelling "Tell us your name! Quick!" Pip surprises us by responding in a much more polite manner than we would expect of someone in this situation. ...read more.

Middle

Also, throughout the book he speaks to all his elders in this way. This shows the respect he has, and how he has been brought up well. However, we do not see any politeness from Miss Havisham. We are also introduced to Estella, the young girl who was adopted by Miss Havisham. Her name means 'star', which is quite ironic. Miss Havisham has trained her to break hearts, and Pip is the boy Estella is to practice on. Pip's gentility shows again when, after Estella is cruel towards him, he forgives her. He is so in love with her that her beauty makes him forget her unpleasantness. His love for her develops so much that he wants to ask her out, but he feels he is not good enough for her because he is poor. When he is 20, we are given the impression that he has not had contact with Estella or Miss Havisham for a while. We learn that Estella has gone to a school where she is learning to be a lady. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is, in effect, making Pip aware of the person he has become. He tells Pip that he is welcome to go home anytime, showing that he has no hostility towards Pip, just compassion. Throughout the book, Dickens shows that the upper class have money, not decency. He gradually reveals that finance does not make you a gentleman, gentility does. When Pip learns that his boss is Magwitch in Chapter Fourteen, his snobbishness shows again when he won't trust him. Yet at the end of the chapter his goodness surpasses this when he tries to help Magwitch. He takes a risk to help Magwitch, just as he did in Chapter One when he was younger, and poorer. At then end we learn that Herbert is not rich, but his loyalty and decency makes him a gentleman. We also learn that Joe is an indicator of gentility, with his justness. Pip eventually makes himself the perfect gentleman; a man who is not incredibly wealthy but acts fairly and modestly, and follows his intuition of what he believes is right. ?? ?? ?? ?? Sam Hill 11MD ...read more.

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