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Pip aspires to become a gentleman - How realistic is this aspiration?

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Great Expectations Coursework - Daniel Roll� Pip aspires to become a gentleman. How realistic is this aspiration? Great Expectations is a bildungroman or educational novel. One of the main themes, gentlemanliness, is also associated with education, money and the effects it has on others. Pip associates gentlemanliness with his sense of inadequacy, which he feels when Estella ridicules him on his first visit to Miss Havisham's residence, Satis House: '...And what course hands he has. And what thick boots!' (Chapter 8). These disdainful comments make Pip feel common and ashamed of what he is. Therefore Pip sees his becoming a gentleman, the only route to Estella believing that he is worthy for her. Pip associates gentlemanliness with social class and the `privileges' that it might bring him, not with integrity of character, which Dickens believes it should be associated with and shows this true form of gentlemanliness through Joe Gargery. Education is an ongoing theme throughout the book, and it is heavily linked with gentlemanliness and money. After all, money is needed to have education. Pip sees education as the route to social success and the only route to becoming a gentleman. He also sees that to acquire this 'much needed' education, he will need money. ...read more.


At first, Pip is horrified at Magwitch's revelation. He does not want to believe that his mysterious benefactor was indeed a criminal. However, he is touched by Magwitch's genuine joy at seeing him. Pip sees that, after all Magwitch is human, and therefore offers him his hospitality. Magwitch identifies himself as Pip's second father, and rightly so, since he created Pips life as a gentleman with his own money. Mrs Havisham, on the other hand, has raised Estella to seek revenge on the whole of the male sex. Compeyson left her heartbroken on her wedding day, and since then she has used Estella as her instrument against men's hearts. Miss Havisham urges Pip to love Estella: "Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces-and as it gets older and stronger-it will tear deeper-love her, love her, love her!"... "Hear me, Pip! I adopted her to be loved. I bred her and educated her to be loved. I developed her into what she is, that she might be loved. Love her!"... "I'll tell you," said she, in the same hurried passionate whisper, "what real love is. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiter-as I did!" ...read more.


Dickens makes a sharp contrast between the two concepts of a gentleman: the first as a man of wealth, status and leisure and the second as a man of moral integrity. Pip believes in the former, and sees this as the road to success. Joe, on the other hand, represents the latter and this is type which Dickens himself believes is the real gentleman. The first type of gentleman is no more than a snob who continually judges by the outside, on wealth and status. Bentley Drummle is a good example of this. Drummle is only a gentleman because of his family and wealth. He is a member of the 'Finches of the Grove', a group that Pip is part of, which spends its time spending money foolishly, and is accepted in fashionable society, despite his stupidity, ignorance and brutality. The traditional gentleman is not, it seems, a true 'Gentle-Man'. To answer the question, I believe that Pip's aspiration to become a gentleman is indeed an unrealistic one. As Herbert Pocket puts it ' No varnish can hide the grain of the wood, and the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself.' Pip was not born into a rich, upper class family and therefore he could never become a traditional gentleman. However, had he stayed with Joe at the forge instead of going to London to seek his wealth, I am sure that he would have become a true gentleman. ...read more.

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