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How does Chapter 14 of Great Expectations explore themes present in the novel as a whole?

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Introduction

How does Chapter 14 of Great Expectations explore themes present in the novel as a whole? Time passes as Pip begins working in Joe's forge and the boy slowly becomes an adolescent. He hates working as Joe's apprentice, but out of consideration for Joe's goodness, he keeps his feelings to himself. "It is not because I had a strong virtue of industry, but because Joe had a strong virtue of industry, that I worked with tolerable zeal against the grain." In this chapter, which comes close to the end of the first volume, Pip is the narrator, not a character acting the scene. Dickens uses this technique to explain Pips misery to the readers. Although he keeps on working in the forge, he is ashamed of his home and of his trade. "It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home". "Now it was all coarse and common, and I would not have had Miss Havisham and Estella see it on any account." "Now the reality was in my hold, I only felt that I was dusty of small-coal, and that I had a weight upon my daily remembrance to which the anvil was a feather." Pip wants to be uncommon and wants to become a gentleman. He is keen to be a part of the environment that he had a small taste of at the Satis House. ...read more.

Middle

Dickens uses this theme in the story and shows Pip learning his lesson, largely when exploring ideas of ambition and self-improvement. Pip is keen to improve when he learns of something better that he already has, desiring immediate self-improvement. When he sees the Satis House he longs to be a wealthy gentleman, when he understands his mistakes he strives to improve and be good, and when he realizes he cannot read he longs to learn. This is how Pips believe of advancement in life creates his "Great Expectations". Without the Great Expectations there would be no story. The themes of self-improvement are in forms of moral, social and education improvements. Pip desires moral self-improvement, and is extremely hard on himself when he acts immorally and feels guilt that stimulate his longing to improve and behave in a better way. And largely starting in this chapter, Pip desires both social and educational improvement. Deeply in love with Estella he is keen to become a member of her social class, also encouraged by Mrs. Joe and Uncle Pumblechook. This gives Dickens an opportunity to criticize the class system of his time. It is obvious later in the book that Pip's life as a gentleman is no more satisfying and moral than his previous life working as a blacksmiths apprentice. Pip also wants educational improvement, greatly connected to his social ambition and desire to marry Estella. ...read more.

Conclusion

Once he understand ideas like poverty, ignorance and immorality, Pip doesn't want to be poor, ignorant and immoral. Pip the narrator judges his own past actions extremely harshly, rarely giving himself credit for good deeds but angrily criticizing himself for bad ones. As a character, Pip's idealism often leads him to make out the world rather narrowly, and his tendency to oversimplify situations based on superficial values leads him to behave badly toward the people who care about him. On the other hand, Pip is at heart a very generous and sympathetic young man, a fact that can be witnessed in his numerous acts of kindness throughout the novel and his essential love for all those who love him. Pip's main line of development in the novel may be seen as the process of learning to place his innate sense of kindness and conscience above his immature idealism. Not long after meeting Miss Havisham and Estella, Pip's desire for advancement largely overshadows his basic goodness. After receiving his mysterious fortune, his idealistic wishes seem to have been justified and he gives himself over to a gentlemanly life. But the discovery that the wretched Magwitch, not the wealthy Miss Havisham, is his secret benefactor shatters Pip's oversimplified sense of his world's hierarchy. Once Pip has learned these lessons, he matures into the man who narrates the novel and so concludes the story, passing Dickens's message across to a nation. ...read more.

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