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What influences shape the character of young Pip in "Great Expectations"?

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Introduction

What influences shape the character of young Pip in "Great Expectations"? "Great Expectations", by Charles Dickens, is an enthralling tale of love and fortune. The story is set in the period of Dickens' childhood, from 1810 to approximately 1830, and it is likely that memories of his own youth inspired Dickens to write the novel. The main character, Pip, is a gentle and humble boy whose character and personality undergo major transformations throughout the novel. He is influenced by many characters, in particular Estella, the hard-hearted girl from Satis House, and Magwitch, the convict from the marshes. From the first page of the novel, Pip is introduced as an orphan and he enlightens the reader "I never saw my father or my mother". This is very similar to the time due to a low life expectancy, as a consequence, the responsibility of his upbringing lies on the shoulders of his sister, Mrs Joe, and her husband, Joe Gargery. It is Mrs Joe who nurtures Pip into a mild mannered little boy who goes on happily with his own modest life. She disciplines Pip through frequent corporal punishment especially through tickler, "a wax-ended piece of cane, worn smooth by collisions with my (Pip's) tickled frame." and occasionally tar-water. ...read more.

Middle

Pip rushes home and then early in the morning Pip sneaks down to the pantry, where he steals some brandy and a pork pie for the convict. He then sneaks to Joe's forge, where he steals a file. Cautiously, he heads back into the marshes to meet the convict. Magwitch tells Pip that he'll never forget his kindness and will remember Pip always and forever. Even though Magwitch causes Pip to have a guilty conscience, the convict does keep his word and rewards Pip for his nobleness later in the novel. In order to make more money Pip's uncle sends Pip to Satis House to play in front of Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham is a cruel and wicked old woman, who uses Pip as sort of a guinea pig to take out her vehement passion of revenge against men. She does this by using her adopted daughter, Estella, to torment Pip and break his heart, just like her heart was broken on the day of wedding. Miss Havisham feeds Pip's desire for Estella by giving him money after every visit. With this money Pip tries to educate himself, with the help of Biddy, so that he can become a gentleman and be worthy of Estella. Pip's first and only love is Estella who has a large influence on him. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Pip finally realises that status and wealth were unimportant, it is too late, he has already broken his relationship with the two people who were most important to him - Joe and Biddy. Pip's dream of becoming a gentleman comes true when his old friend Magwitch comes back to become his benefactor. When Pip realises that his true benefactor was a convict, he was disappointed, partly because the origin of his money was of a lower class than himself. As his benefactor Magwitch funds Pip in his academic studies and makes Pip a gentleman. Through this, Pip's dream becomes true and he starts to act like a snob even though he truly isn't. His attitude changes and he becomes arrogant and the exact opposite of that he was in his childhood. This is only happens directly due to Magwitch, yet it is Miss Havisham who sows the seed of wickedness into Pip and it is through trying to impress Estella that Pip changes into someone who he never dreamt of becoming. I feel that if Pip never met these women he would have happily carried on with life in the Gargery forge. It is ironic that the negative influence on Pip's life is from the bourgeois class of Miss Havisham and Estella who create a false illusion of existence yet the positive influence come from the last place imaginable - a fugitive convict exiled in Australia and architect of his great expectations. Ilia Cherezov ...read more.

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