• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

In the light of your reading of "Great Expectations", what do you feel Dickens has to say regarding the qualities of a true "gentleman"?

Extracts from this document...


In the light of your reading of "Great Expectations", what do you feel Dickens has to say regarding the qualities of a true "gentleman"? Throughout the Victorian era humanity was obsessed with social status and took every opportunity to search for meaningful existence within society. 'Great Expectations' follows Pip's journey from childhood to adulthood, acquainting with both the true and false qualities of a 'gentleman'. All through the novel, social class provides an arbitrary, external standard of value by which the characters judge one another. During Pip's progression of becoming a 'gentleman' he realizes appearance is not the main quality a gentleman should posses. Dickens provides Pip, the protagonist, with extreme challenges involving his genteel qualities to expose the obvious need of being accepted in the social hierarchy, even if this acceptance included dismissing known loved ones. Pip longs to be a "gentleman" in one sense but learns to be a gentleman in the truest sense of the word. This longing to become a gentleman arose when seven year old Pip first encountered with Estella and has followed Pip through every memory and incident which occurred afterwards. As a child, having met Estella, Pip changed his perspectives about his surroundings and his family, but most of all about himself. His longing to marry Estella from young age on influenced his behavior throughout his life and the book. "I want to be a gentleman on her account" Pip explains to Biddy. Pip's desire to be a gentleman is to live up to Estella's expectations and impress her by changing himself. Estella's harsh words and thoughts towards Pip affected his thoughts about his family, surroundings and himself. "He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy, and what coarse hands he has, and what thick boots!" - Estella "I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair." ...read more.


Biddy, being treated good or bad by Pip, always remained clam and polite towards him, this demonstrates that she was respectful and civil, "If only I could get myself to fall in love with you - you don't mind my speaking so openly to such an old acquaintance?" - Pip "Oh, dear, not at all! Don't mind me" - Biddy. Although Biddy lacks some aspects of a "gentleman" such as proper education and financial issues, she recites the inner aspects needed to be a "gentleman". Biddy teaches Pip to accept who he is and to appreciate himself and his surroundings. At the end of the novel he realizes that no external standard of value can replace the judgments of one's own conscience. Even thought Biddy's status isn't above on the hierarchy, she accepts whom she is, which is one of the most important features of being a true "gentleman". A fearsome criminal, Magwitch escapes from prison at the beginning of Great Expectations and terrorizes Pip in the cemetery. Pip's kindness, however, makes a deep impression on him, and he subsequently devotes himself to making a fortune and using it to elevate Pip into a higher social class. Behind the scenes, he becomes Pip's secret benefactor, funding Pip's education and opulent lifestyle in London through the lawyer Jaggers. Although Magwitch's appearance and background of a gentleman is absent, his inner self contains all the necessary elements of a true gentleman. "Look'ee here, Pip. I'm your second father. You're my son-more to me nor any son. I've put away money, only for you to spend. When I was a hired-out shepherd in a solitary hut, not seeing no faces but faces of sheep till I half-forgot wot men's and women's faces wos like." The quote is important for what it reveals about Magwitch's character: previously, the convict has seemed menacing, mysterious, and frightening; with this quote, we receive our first glimpse of his extraordinary inner nobility, manifested through the powerful sense of loyalty he feels toward Pip. ...read more.


The Pockets are a great example of showing false gentility. Camilla, Raymond and Sarah Pocket (Mathew Pocket's wife) are relatives of Ms. Havisham. Ones a year, on Ms. Havisham's birthday they come and visit her at her home. Their genteel character shown towards Ms. Havisham is a plan to inherit her money. Their reason to visit Ms. Havisham is only to convince her of their care and love towards her so Ms. Havisham would give them some money. "Dear Ms. Havisham, how well do you look!" said Ms. Sarah Pocket, "I do not" Ms. Havisham replied coldly. This shows that Ms. Havisham knows the reason the Pockets pay visits to her. The Pockets reason for visiting their family member is a sharp contrast to the genteel qualities a person should possess. After all their sweet talk and adulating, the Pockets didn't receive any money or possessions of Ms. Havisham. It is necessary to examine all the qualities a true gentleman should possess. Although in the Victorian era there were different views on what makes a gentleman, throughout his journey, Pip learned more about gentility and what it takes to be a true gentleman. At the end of this novel, Great Expectations, Pip summed up all the qualities desired to be a true gentleman. These qualities included upbringing and education, financial status, social standing, moral views such as Christianity, occupation, respect, politeness, aristocratic attitude and civilized. Every character who appeared in Great Expectations taught Pip a few things about true gentility, whether it was negative or positive. "No man who was not a true gentleman at heart, ever was, since the world began, a true gentleman in manner. He says, no varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself" This advice was given by Mathew Pocket. I feel that Dickens tried to explains that a true gentle man has to posses the qualities on the inside before having them on the outside. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Great Expectations section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Great Expectations essays

  1. Great Expectations -How Pip changes throughout the novel

    Do you feel you have lost her?' At this point Miss Havisham is really being harsh to Pip she is trying to make Pip feel like he has lost out on something really big, this is unfair to Pip. When Pip met Estella at Miss Havisham's house it was 'love at first sight'.

  2. Consider the role and presentation of women in Great Expectations and their influence on ...

    On Pip's second visit to Satis House, Miss Havisham's relations are at the house as it is her birthday, trying to secure some of Miss Havisham's money. She uses Pip to spite them by making them think that Pip will get all her money.

  1. development of pip

    The discovery of his true benefactor leads Pip into a state of depression as his hopes in marrying Estella are threatened. Because Pip has lost the hope that he and Estella are destined to be together he travels to Satis House to break of his connections with Miss Havisham and Estella.

  2. Charles Dickens Great Expectations Moral and Social Issues

    Personally, Dickens is telling us that money should not be the driving force in life. He reinforces his point through the character of Pip. Pip's acquirement of wealth and status does nothing but corrupt him; he ignores people that care for him and even puts himself in danger of being arrested.

  1. How does Dickens make us feel for Pip?

    When Pip answers Havisham she asks, 'Pip?' We pity Pip, not only is he nervous but feels he has no identity. She calls Pip, 'come nearer...come close' as if he were an object to examine. We as readers are heart broken that an orphaned angelic child would be put under so much pressure.

  2. Great Expectations - How successful do you think Pip is in his quest to ...

    This shows how his expectations are growing, (also at the same the rate as his snobbery). Although Pip is becoming a snob, he still visits Wemmick, an employee of Mr Jaggers. He admires Wemmick for his home and his care of his 'aged parent' (Chapter Twenty Five).

  1. Compare the ways Dickens presents the characters of Estella and Biddy in 'Great Expectations'.

    My opinion of Biddy at this point is that she is a very kind-hearted, caring, hard-working girl. She is very polite, and knows her place in society. She is also a very typical women of her class at the time when the novel was set.

  2. Great Expectations: Father figures, mentors and patrons

    Joe was a child of an abusive family; his father was a drunkard and beat Joe and his mother. The epitaph that Joe composes for his father reveals the extent of his forgiving nature. The same epitaph, "Whatsumever the failings on his part, Remember, reader, he were that good in

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work