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What does Pip learn and how does he learn it during the course of Great Expectations?

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What does Pip learn and how does he learn it during the course of Great Expectations? Throughout Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' Pip's character undergoes constant changes when it develops, matures, and his experience of the outside world grows. Dickens tells the story through Pip narrating and this gives him a personal connection with the reader and it is easy to understand and reciprocate his feelings. One of the main themes in 'Great Expectations' is the idea of change. Pip experiences the rise to an upper-class life and then the fall from grace initiated by the return of Magwitch. One of the major things that Pip learns about is love; love within families, love between friends, and most important, his love for Estella. Before his visit to Satis House Pip has had almost no contact with girls his age and so on meeting Estella, a girl of such elegance and beauty, he experiences feelings and emotions which are completely new to him. He is amazed by her power and the way she puts Mr Pumblechook down. She calls him 'boy' and commands him with tremendous authority. She says things like 'don't loiter boy' (Ch. 8 p. 55) and 'don't be ridiculous boy' (Ch.8 p.56) which make Pip feel pathetic and useless. ...read more.


Pip lives his whole life in denial and continues to try and run away from his past life and his past character. It is only through old connections (Biddy, Magwitch, Joe etc.) that Pip realises he cannot escape from his old way of life. He is bound to the past. Even if he desires to return to his simple life at the forge, could he ever return fully? His character and attitudes have changed since he left and it is impossible to change back again. He is a different man now with different values and expectations. Biddy realises this even if Pip does not, and she understands that they could never be together. I feel sorry for Pip in this situation. His move from a simple boy to a gentleman symbolises advancement through life from the nineteenth century to the twentieth century. He is only human and made a mistake which was driven by his love for Estella. He did not know that there was no going back. Linked with the theme of self-knowledge, Pip begins to learn that being a gentleman, a dream he has clutched since meeting Estella, does not make him feel happy. Spending money freely and dining in a posh manner does not complete him. ...read more.


He learns this through the arrival of Magwitch and the reality of who his benefactor is. He demonstrates the significant change in him when Biddy asks him about his obsession with Estella. He tells her that 'that poor dream, as I once used to call it; has all gone by, Biddy, all done by!' (Ch. 19 p.476). When Pip agrees to help Magwitch his character begins a gradual change. He stands by Magwitch and visits him in prison and even helps him escape from London. This shows warmth in his character and dedication to a man whom he owes so much. However, Pip realises that he cannot be happy living as a gentleman and believes that he would like to return to the forge and settle down with Biddy. To conclude, Pip is continuously learning about life and it is obvious to see a strong development in his character. His childhood innocence and satisfactory way of living is shattered by his visits to Satis house. He drifts away from his roots at the forge and experiences a luxury way of living whilst staying in the centre of London. However, he comes to recognize the importance of family and realises that he cannot escape his humble background. He learns what it is like to live his dreams and ambitions and experiences the rises and falls of a high status life. And most importantly, he learns what it means to be human. ?? ?? ?? ?? Charlie Holden ...read more.

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