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Great Expectations - Give an account of Pip's upbringing and character. Why does he seek the life of a gentleman?

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Give an account of Pip's upbringing and character. Why does he seek the life of a gentleman? Pip's harsh upbringing by his guardians has led to unusual character, and because of his character, he feels ashamed of his social standing after having seen how the upper class people live. This starts his quest to become a gentleman. Pip had quite a depressing upbringing, typical of the time that the book was set in. Pip was ill treated as a child, mainly by his guardian Mrs. Joe Gargery. In Chapter Two, Pip mentions that Mrs. Joe boasts to her friends that she raised Pip 'by hand'. Pip thinks that she means literally using her hand on him, as this is what she has done in the past. Mainly because of this, Pip feels relatively unloved. In Chapter One, Pip mentions that he has no friends, his parents and all of his family are dead other than Mrs. Joe, who looks after him. In Chapter Nine, Estella, whom Pip is beginning to love, does not return his love, which intensifies his feelings of being unloved. Pip was deprived as a child; his family were not particularly wealthy, Joe (his sister's husband) ...read more.


In Chapter Eight this ambition started when Estella called him ' coarse and common' and 'a common labouring boy'. In chapter seventeen he first tells Biddy about his ambition. 'I want to become a gentleman.' If it wasn't for Pip's benefactor, his ambition would have never been realised and he might have never left the forge. Pip's character is lonely; he has no friends other than Joe (Chapter One) and he has to rely on his imagination for company. His parents and all of his family other than his sister are dead (Chapter One). Pip is timid; on page three he is scared out of his wits by the convict and in other cases also. This, Pip says is down to his sister's harsh bringing up of him. With most people, Pip is generally quiet and shy, but with Estella he is even more so, this is because he is embarrassed and incapable to retaliate to her insults, possibly because he has never retaliated to his sister's insults, for example 'You little coarse monster, what do you think of me now?' (Estella) 'I shall not tell you' (Pip's reply), (Chapter Eleven). Pip is resentful of some people, Estella in particular, he resents her insults of him (e.g. ...read more.


Pip merely answers ' I don't know.' Subconsciously, Pip may want to become a gentleman to spite Estella. Pip may be confusing his feelings of love and his social ambitions. Pip may not only want to become a gentleman due to Estella, but perhaps also due to Pumblechook's influence; he now admires him as a middle-class gentleman; although he does not envy him as he considers him an obnoxious fool. It is therefore clear to see that Pip's harsh upbringing 'by hand' by Mrs Joe has led to his lonely, ambitious and timid character. Pip seeks the life of a gentleman as he is ashamed of himself (mainly due to Estella's remark of 'coarse and common'), his belongings, and he feels to solve this, he must become a social gentleman. He may also have an ulterior motive, to elevate himself to a social standing where Estella will actually talk to him and not look down on him. Because of Pip being embarrassed over his commonness and his possessions, he is dissatisfied with his place in society, e.g. 'I am not happy as I am. I am disgusted with my calling in life.' (Chapter Seventeen). He knows that as long as he is Joe's apprentice, he will never fulfil his dream of becoming a gentleman. Graeme Bingham 11MN 19/11/01 ...read more.

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