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Great Expectations - Why was Pip's desire to be a gentleman bound up with winning the love of Estella?

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Adem Uner 11R English Literature Coursework Great Expectations Why was Pip's desire to be a gentleman bound up with winning the love of Estella? Pip begins the novel of Great Expectations as the member of a poor family, including himself, his sister, Mrs Gargery, and her husband, Joe. As he grows up, he has an urge to become a gentleman primarily to impress a girl called Estella with whom he has various meetings with in his childhood. It is here where is obsession with her begins. Pip's first encounter with Estella is caused due to Miss Havisham wanting them to meet. Miss Havisham was left at the alter on her wedding day by a man she dearly loved, and uses Estella to avenge this by, in someway, training her not to love and to "break men's hearts". Pip goes to Miss Havisham's house with no idea of why he's going there, except that he's expected to play: "...why on earth I was going to play at Miss Havisham's and what on earth I was expected to play at." This is Pip's first encounter of an upper-class family and he has no idea of what to expect. ...read more.


This is something Pip would have to have if he were to be able to be with Estella - to become a gentleman - a man regarded as having qualities of refinement associated with a good family. A man who is cultured, courteous and well educated. Something that Pip, at this time in the novel, was most certainly not. Parts of Great Expectations can be compared to Charles Dickens' life. In this novel, Pip's character and what happens to him is similar to what happened to Dickens. In 1822 Dickens family moved to London because they were very short of money. Charles had been taken from school and his father was arrested for debt and taken to the Marshalsea debtor's prison. Later he was joined there by the rest of his family, except Dickens: to help his family's finances, he had been sent to work in Warren's Blacking Factory. There he had to wrap and label bottles of blacking (a kind of shoe polish) for a wage of six shillings a week. He was forced to work twelve hours a day in unpleasant surroundings, earning only just enough to buy food and wander alone around London. ...read more.


He also fell in love with someone who was more upper class than him-self, and his relationship with her was frowned upon. It was an unhappy time for Dickens as she treated him rather coldly, much like Pip, as he was made to feel ashamed of himself and was also treated coldly by Estella. Dickens is drawing story lines from his own life into this novel. He is writing from experience. Overall, the exterior vision of a gentleman becomes very important to Pip in the earlier stages of the novel - the clothes and general appearance of his surroundings obsess him to such a point that he appoints the "Avenger" to serve on him. The Avenger, though expensively dressed, seems to be absolutely ridiculous - dressed in a canary yellow waistcoat. To him, gentlemen deserve respect, and once Pip "becomes" a gentleman, this appears to happen - he is treated respectfully by Trabb when he goes to buy his clothes, when previously he wasn't given a second glance. Before he was offered the chance to become one, Pip wanted to be a gentleman for only one reason: to impress Estella, to be an equal, instead of a "common labouring boy". In this way he thought he could have a chance with being with her. ...read more.

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