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Explore the development of Pip’s character in the opening chapters of Great Expectations. How is he affected by his initial encounters with Magwitch, Miss Havisham and Estella?

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Explore the development of Pip's character in the opening chapters of Great Expectations. How is he affected by his initial encounters with Magwitch, Miss Havisham and Estella? At the beginning of chapter one Pip is presented to the reader by Charles Dickens as an innocent young boy: "My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name being Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer than Pip". This opening reflects on Pip's intelligence and also introduces the main character and narrator. Dickens makes very good use of the opening paragraph by gaining support for Pip. Dickens would have done this to intrigue the reader and entice them into reading onwards; also originally Great Expectations came out in instalments, printed in a newspaper, so by presenting Pip as an innocent young boy, who has nothing going for him, the reader would be instantly intrigued by what is going to happen to him. To gain further support Pip is also an orphan - "I never saw my father or mother". From the opening line of the story you become deeply involved with Pip's life as a child; by the end of the first paragraph the reader has already been told: * Why he is called Pip * His family name is Pirrip * He lives with his sister (Mrs. Joe Gargery) * That he is an orphan. ...read more.


Also because of where Pip lived, in an area away from large towns or cities, this meant that Pip would have lived quite a sheltered life with only a few people as friends. One of his closest friends is Joe, but is this because he is the only adult he knows and likes? This might explain why Pip is so friendly with Magwitch. Furthermore Pip has sympathy with Magwitch because he is presented to him as a poor desperate man. This reality consequently scares Pip into helping Magwitch, along with Magwitch's idle threats ("keep still, you little devil or I'll cut your throat"), and Pip agrees to get his some food (whittles) and a file. At one point in Great Expectations Pip refers to Magwitch as "my friend". This shows that Pip likes Magwitch, which is very strange considering he is an apparently dangerous convict who threatened Pip. But this also shows that Pip has been so isolated he wants to make a new friendship, even with Magwitch! In chapter eight Pip is taken to Satis House (Miss Havisham's house) by Uncle Pumblechook. The visit is very important to Mrs. Joe because she believes that she could possibly get some of Miss Havisham's wealth if Pip impresses her. It is also a very significant visit for Pip and it is his first experience of the upper class. ...read more.


From these actions by Estella, Pip starts to reject how he has been brought up and who has brought him up. His upbringing, which has taught him to know his place, prevents him from questioning Estella's upbringing. At the end of chapter nine Pip is left thinking about the differences between life at home and at Satis House. The end of chapter nine can't leave you feeling anything but intrigued by what Pip will do next. Will he reject Joe and Mrs. Joe through sheer embarrassment? Dickens again would have deliberately left this as a cliff-hanger so people would buy the next instalment. When Estella let Pip kiss her (at the end of chapter eleven), Pip is again left thinking about his upbringing and still feels ashamed that Estella looks down on him because he is of a lower class. Pip develops throughout the opening of Great Expectations, from the beginning where he is presented as a young innocent child, to developing into a child who wants to do well and become a gentleman. Also Pip starts to become more independent. Pip's experience with Magwitch is significant as being his first experience of guilt, but also Magwitch is a friend to Pip and this is an important thread throughout the book. However the most significant part of the opening is the visit to Miss Havisham's house and the first experience of the upper class, which makes him want to reject his upbringing. Pip grows up/develops quickly in the opening, but will he actually reject his upbringing? That is the question that you want to know. ...read more.

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