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'Guilty but innocent' is a reference used by critics to describe Pip. How far would you agree with this observation from the reading of volume one?

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Introduction

Karen Ingleby 'Guilty but innocent' is a reference used by critics to describe Pip. How far would you agree with this observation from the reading of volume one? In my opinion I would agree and say that this observation is highly accurate of the young protagonist in volume one. Pip has been presented to us as a vulnerable character from the very opening chapter; Dickens describes him using the imagery of 'a little bundle of shivers' at the resting place of his parents and siblings, which makes Pips defenceless and innocent nature very much apparent. We are also informed of Pips early trials where he is threatened by the cannibalistic convict Magwitch, he is 'rampaged' by Tickler and his cruel sister, taunted by Estella, his first love, and he let down by his first real friend, Joe. As a result, I believe Pip internalises each of these sufferings and as such they have led to him slipping into the role of a passive victim. ...read more.

Middle

This guilt is emphasised during the Christmas meal when soldiers turn up bearing handcuffs and Pip quite genuinely believes they are there to arrest him, which of course they are not. Another example of Pips guilt is found after the brutal attack on Mrs Joe. Pip somehow feels responsible for this yet he had no part in the attack. When a leg iron is found out to be the weapon, Pips guilt doubles. This is because he believes the leg iron to be the one filed from the leg of the convict Magwitch. As such he feels a guilty responsibility that he has unwillingly provided the weapon that hurt his sister, and also feels guilty as despite many years having passed, he has still kept the convict and theft a secret from Joe. His struggle for status is always shadowed by his feelings of guilt like this, and by his taints of criminality. ...read more.

Conclusion

Perhaps one thing Pip can be seen as being guilty of at times, is being ungrateful. This feeling emerges after his visits to Statis house and his meeting of Estella whom he wishes to impress and to seek the status of a gentleman as a means to be worth of being with her. This realisation takes place when he is made aware that as the apprentice blacksmith he would have become, this dream would have been rendered impossible. However as David Trotter explains "At times Pip demonstrates ingratitude, however the level of guilt he feels seems constantly in excess of the actual wrong he has done." In conclusion, Pip is not without some fault, he does indeed act in ways which would naturally lead to a certain level of guilt for example the stealing of food and his ingratitude to Joe for his apprenticeship, but as Trotter says, these feelings are always exaggerated by Pip into more than they need be, leaving him innocent, but feeling guilty. ...read more.

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