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How does Dickens create sympathy for Pip in the Opening chapters of Great Expectations?

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How does Dickens create sympathy for Pip in the Opening chapters of Great Expectations? Great Expectations is set in early Victorian England, a time when great social changes were sweeping the nation. The Industrial Revolution meant that the rich accumulated more wealth whilst the poverty stricken 'working class' had a much harder life and minimal wage. Although social class was no longer entirely dependent on the circumstances of one's birth, the divisions between rich and poor remained nearly as wide as ever. London, a teeming mass of humanity, formed a sharp contrast with the nation's sparsely populated rural areas. More and more people moved from the country to the city in search of greater economic opportunity. In England the manners of the upper class were very strict and conservative; gentlemen and ladies were expected to have good manners and an education. Great Expectations fits a very well known story telling pattern, a transition from boyhood to manhood such as that experienced by Pip. It shows the change as one grows in maturity from childhood to adulthood because of the events he has been through. The moral theme of Great Expectations is one which many people hope they hold true to but in reality do not. It shows that affection, loyalty, and conscience are more important than social advancement, wealth, and class. Dickens establishes the theme and shows Pip learning this lesson, largely by exploring ideas of ambition and self-improvement. ...read more.


When the convict questions him about his parents' names, Pip recites them exactly as they appear on the tombstones, indicating his youthful innocence while simultaneously allowing Dickens to lessen the dramatic tension of the novel's opening. Pips reaction to this traumatic event in his young life befits his unsophisticated moral reasoning; Pip is horrified by the convict. But despite his horror, he helps them man who even from the child's perspective must be an 'outlaw'. It would have been easy for Pip to run to his loveable stepfather Joe or to the police for help rather than getting hold of the file and food, but Pip like many young children holds true to his promise to the, in his eyes, suffering man. Your sympathy grows when pips complete innocence is shown by his fear for the convict's safety, for a person who scared the life out of this small child! Still, throughout this section, Pip's self-commentary mostly emphasizes his negative qualities: his dishonesty and his guilt. This is characteristic of Pip as a narrator throughout the novel. Despite his many admirable qualities his, compassion, loyalty and conscience pip's view of himself is largely pessimistic and focuses on his failures and shortcomings. To understand him as a character, it is necessary to look beyond his self-descriptions and consider his actions. In fact, it may be his powerful sense of his own moral shortcomings that motivates Pip to act so morally. ...read more.


When, in chapter eight, the novel introduces the characters of Estella and miss Havisham the idea of social class and advancement leap to the forefront of pips mind. Pip's hopes that Miss Havisham intends to raise him into wealth and high social class are given special urgency by the passionate attraction he feels for Estella. His feelings for the "very pretty and very proud" young lady, combined with the deep impression made on him by Satis House, with its ornate grandeur, haunted atmosphere, and tragic sense of mystery, raise in Pip a new consciousness of his own low birth and common bearing. When he returns from Satis House in Chapter nine, he even lies about his experience there, unwilling to dirty his thoughts of it with the contrasting plainness of his everyday world: Estella and Miss Havisham must remain "far above the level of such common doings." Miss Havisham's first impressions are mysterious and at the same time terrifying, she seems almost overbearingly polite Pip's romantic sensibility, first visible in his tendency to linger around his parents' gravestones, is powerfully attracted to the enigmatic world of Satis House. His desire for self-improvement compels him to idealize Estella. Her condescension and spite match Pip's feelings about himself in the world of Satis House. He accepts her cruelty-"Why, he is a common labouring-boy!"-without defending himself because he sorrowfully believes her to be right. In fact, he only cries when he is forced to leave her. The differences between their social classes manifest themselves even in small things; while playing cards in Chapter 8, Estella remarks disdainfully, "He calls the knaves, jacks, this boy!" ...read more.

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