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Great Expectations

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Great Expectations In this essay I am looking at Charles Dicken's novel Great Expectations (pub.1861) and trying to answer the question of who in this novel is the actual "gentle man". In this I am taking the word "gentleman" to mean as the oxford english dictionary puts it: "A chivalrous, well bred man" However I feel that a slight alteration is needed due to the fact that to be a "gentleman" you don't need to be well bred, mearly to behave chivalrously yourself or this immediately marks down the people of lower class backgrounds seemingly unfairly. Obviously the title of being the "gentleman" of the novel does seem to fall upon Pip, the man who was actually bought up to be one under the orders of the benefactor Abel Magwitch. Though it is true he was bought up to be the proper Victorian gentleman with characteristics that were approved of by the upper/middle classes. We are able to look at this from a totally different, 21st Century viewpoint which, due to social and economic upheavals, is radically different to the Victorians' . In the novel Pip demonstrates himself to be, in my opinion, morally unsound several times deeming him not to become the proper gentleman that he might otherwise be. The shame he openly shows when reminded of his working class background is one issue against him. When having a rowing class on the Thames the instructor tells Pip he has "the arm of a blacksmith". Although the man clearly could not know that he was originally a blacksmith Pip takes it as an insult and is extremely ashamed of this because he thinks he might lose social status among his friends. This just shows how much he dislikes being reminded of the working class and who he used to live with which is a rather distasteful act of snobbery. Another of these incidents that demonstrate the ashamedness he holds of his past comes when Joe comes to visit him for the first time. ...read more.


However even though Pip is ruined Herbert still finds him work and helps to "pay his debts" that Pip was not yet able to pay back to the creditors So Herbert is a potential candidate for being the true gentleman of the novel, however he and Pip do not stand as the only gentlemen. One can also consider that Mr Joe Gargery is a gentleman. His actions throughout the book are kind and considerate towards Pip and others. For a most obvious starting point, you can immediately see his kind nature in the way that he has let Pip, his wife's brother, come and live with them. He could have simply said that he would not allow it and that Pip could not live with them but he does not. While Pip is residing there for the first part of the book Joe is Pip's best friend who he confides in who Pip describes as: "My equal, no more than a larger species of child". Joe also tries to help Pip and to get him out of trouble with his sister when he is able to. The way he stands between Pip and Mrs Joe as a sort of "fence" is very much a protective act to help Pip he "did as much as he could to keep Pip and the tickler in sunders". He also takes "many a tickle" due to trying to stop Mrs Joe from beating Pip with the "tickler" stick. Joe also supports Pip in his education by looking at what Pip has done at school and encouraging him to better himself by telling Pip that what he can write is "astonishing". This is possibly because Joe is not educated at all and cannot read or write and so does not want Pip to be as uneducated as he is. Joe's desire to be educated is much unlike other supposed gentleman like Drummle who seems to feel that he does not need education because he is already a gentleman due to his background of nobility. ...read more.


This shows that he is definitely a good friend especially as he made him "best man" at his wedding with Miss Skiffins. However, I feel that Wemmick's gentlemanly merits are shown to many other people other than Pip. For example he helps his parent, referred to as "the Aged", and cares for him at his home. He tries to be nice to him by letting him "read the paper" and by "firing the stinger". Wemmick clearly does not dislike the Aged in fact he treats him in a friendly manner trying to please him by "nodding" to indicate his attention. In addition, he treats Mrs Wemmick (n�e Skiffins) well with honest intentions towards her resulting in what seems, on the surface, to be a very happy marriage. Dickens seems to try to make Wemmick a gentleman although he is directly related in work to the law business. He does this by having Wemmick with two sides, the "Walworth sentiments" side who is a nice friendly character, and the "work sentiments" side who treats people as he needs to rather than as he feels is just. This is not surprising due to Dickens dislike of the law. Therefore, after looking through all the men in the book who could be the "gentlemen" of the novel who do it actually seem to be? Obviously there are several that stand out: Joe with his support for Pip, Magwitch's donations that made Pip who he is and Wemmick with his loyal friendship. However I feel that Herbert is by far the gentleman of the book in the way that he is nice to all he meets, remains a loyal friend of Pips throughout the book and is generally a completely selfless person. Herbert manages to do these things where the others can fall short Wemmick with his "work sentiments" and Magwitch and his obvious criminal record. Of all the others Joe comes nearest to being the true gentleman but you have to remember that he is ...read more.

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