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Pip wants to grow up to be a gentleman. Do you think he succeeds?

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Richard Wingfield Eng. Lit. Great Expectations Pip wants to grow up to be a gentleman. Do you think he succeeds? Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens and first published in 1861, just eleven years after the Great Exhibition in London where the best of England and her empire was shown off to the rest of the world. At this time Britain was undoubtedly the greatest and most powerful nation in the world. This is reflected at the start of Book two in the line: "We Britons had at this time particularly settles that it was treasonable to doubt our having and being the best of everything." And when Dickens wrote this novel, it was to warn against the arrogance of wealth and power that Britain and it's people had. This message is emphasised through characters like Pip and Pumblechook. Before we can argue for or against the question, we need to decide what a gentleman is. There are two options to this in my opinion; in Victorian times people believed a gentleman was a man with wealth and lots of land, good clothes and power. This is the type of person Pip wishes to be. The more serious meaning is a good and kind man. Gentleman literally means a 'gentle man' a man who is generous and noble. For the essence of this essay I take gentleman to it's true meaning, a good and honest man, but because this is set in the nineteenth century, I shall also include aspects which refer to wealth and property. The main character Pip, short for Philip Pirrip has a name meaning 'seed' and it is through the book that this 'seed' tries to grow into a gentleman, thought the perfect environment is difficult to find. The bleak marshes of his home and the dusty grimy London he lives in are far from perfect and Pip has to learn this the hard way. ...read more.


and will certainly not help him to become a 'true' gentleman. By now Pip is settled in London and his character is developing more regarding gentlemanly elements. We can see already that this is not the place for Pip to grow into a gentlemen. The people here are selfish, greedy and snobbish. Even the actual gentleman are rude and hostile. The only real kindness we see is in Herbert and his father, both are kind people who want to help Pip, but he is so arrogant now they may not be able to help him. Pip hasn't remembered home once, and has never written a letter back to Joe and Biddy. It shows how rude he is, not even bothering to make an effort to keep in contact and forgetting all that Joe did for him. However we now see a new kind character, one who hasn't played much of a role before now in the form of Wemmick. Wemmick invites Pip over for dinner at his 'castle' so called because that is how he sees it. In contrast to the negative and grimy London, the 'castle' is very different. Dicken's idea of a romantic Old Britain, and what it should be. Wemmick lives with his father - Aged P - and although he is very old and senile, Wemmick takes good care of him, looking after his family which Pip failed to do. The house is old-fashioned with a moat and guns fired throughout the day. A complete opposite to Little Britain. It shows the two sides to Wemmick's personality. One the one hand in London he is cold and hard, ruthless even, but at home he is warm and kind, caring and gentle. These are the real aspects to becoming a gentleman that Pip needs to learn. Three very important things for Pip happen now. Firstly Joe comes to visit him and to tell him Miss Havisham and Estella want to see him. ...read more.


He has passed his kindness onto Pip who can now love and be good towards others as well. Pip's illness is like a rebirth. When he has full health again he has become a good person finally. Wealth and property hasn't made him a gentleman, but kindness and good deeds through Joe have. He realises Estella is never going to be with him, so he goes back to the Forge to see if Biddy will accept him, but she is now married to Joe. Pip's coldness and obsession for Estella means he has lost both women. He goes off to Cairo with Herbert and Clara and works hard there to earn enough money to pay Joe back his debts. The novel ends with Pip walking around the ruins of Satis House which is to be demolished. Here he decides that he still wants to be a gentleman, but a good one. Nothing like his old cold arrogant self, but a good Christian gentleman, like Herbert and Joe. These are the people who have prevented him from becoming a monster. So after the whole book is over Pip has gone from a good child to a bad and selfish man, but by the very end he has returned to his former kindness. With a good upbringing from Joe who taught him to be kind and do good deeds for others, and Herbert's gentle guidance he has realised the error of his previous ways. He has shown that he can care for people - like Magwitch, and he works hard to pay back others like Joe. In conclusion to the question at the start. I would say yes, Pip does succeed in becoming a gentleman. It has been hard, he has not had good environments in which to grow, he has done a number of bad things. But towards the end he does so many good things towards other people and finally sees how to act - like Joe, that although he may not be a perfect gentleman right at the moment. He soon will be. ...read more.

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