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Whom does Dickens present as the perfect gentleman in "Great Expectations"?

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Introduction

Whom does Dickens present as the perfect gentleman in "Great Expectations"? One of the most important themes in "Great Expectations" is the idea of what makes the perfect gentleman. Dickens presents this idea through the adventures of Pip and how he develops his idea of what a true gentleman is. His first image of a gentleman is purely based on what their appearance is, such as Cousin Raymond and Jaggers on Miss Havisham's birthday, and then he calls Herbert "the pale young gentleman". These presumptions are not based on personality, yet towards the end of the book, he does not respect Herbert or Magwitch due to their appearance, but because he has realised that a true gentleman has many more qualities than just a good outward appearance. However, Pip's initial impressions of a gentleman are of a person who is wealthy and affluent. When Pip first meets a gentleman, Cousin Raymond at Satis House on Miss Havisham's birthday, he describes him and three other ladies as "toadies and humbugs". Here, Dickens presents them as very unpleasant characters and makes the reader hate them from the start. This effect is created by how he first presents them as boring ("the ladies had to speak quite rigidly to repress a yawn"), and then they look down at Pip ("they all looked at me with the utmost contempt"). Here Dickens seemed to be sending out the message that not all so-called "gentlemen" are necessarily polite or well-mannered. Furthermore, Pip's next meeting with a gentleman is not pleasant either. When Pip first meets Jaggers, on the same day, Pip does not take a liking to him either. Dickens presents him as a bossy type of person, suggested by the language which Jaggers uses whilst talking to Pip. He first asks him "Boy of the neighbourhood?" This implies that Jaggers thinks less of Pip; as inferior to him. ...read more.

Middle

Jaggers would definitely be considered a gentleman by the Victorians at that time. As he himself mentions, he is "pretty well known" and is very wealthy. Here Dickens presents him as a snob who is simply showing off. However, Jaggers would simply not be considered a gentleman in a more modern society as he is definitely not caring or loving or even slightly kind. This is shown by the way in which he only wants a yes or no answer and that when someone doesn't, he very rudely interrupts and asks them again. For example, when he is talking to his clients, he asks one of them if they have paid Wemmick yet. When that person doesn't answer yes or no, Jaggers tells them that "I don't ask you when you have made it up... Have you paid Wemmick?" This instantly shows the true character of Jaggers as a selfish person who always gets what he wants. Conversely, when Pip next meets another gentleman, Herbert who he refers to as a "pale young gentleman", he is not unpleasant towards Pip. In fact, even while Pip is beating him up, Herbert does not utter any word of contempt against Pip. Here Dickens is presenting a very different view of what a gentleman should be like. When Pip first sees him, he sees him as a gentleman straight away, which shows that he would almost certainly be considered as a gentleman to Victorians. When he meets Herbert in London, his true character is shown. Herbert is instantly presented as a very polite person, shown by the way he reaches his hand out "good-humouredly" and how Pip describes him as having an "easy way with him that was very taking". Later on in the chapter, he shows his kindness again by telling him not to "put the knife in the mouth". He does not say it in a bossy way or try to embarrass Pip. ...read more.

Conclusion

This is shown by the way that he gives a perfectly accurate reason for it and also, he says it in a "lively way" which makes Pip "scarcely blush". Here Dickens is clearly trying to make a point that a true gentleman is caring to all types of people, weather they are rich or poor. When Pip first goes to London, he meets two people who he becomes great friends with - Wemmick and HeHHjdfkHerbert. His first impressions of Wemmick are not great, but later Pip realises he is different when at home, as opposed to when he is at work, and Pip realises that he is a real gentleman at home. Dickens presents Wemmick as a well-to-do person. He is not wealthy nor is he poor. However, Wemmick is shown to be very kind throughout the book, albeit while at home. Not only does he show kindness to Pip, he even helps Herbert, even though he does not know him very well. Conversely, Wemmick is not presented as a perfect gentleman because he is a very different type of person at work. He is described as "a dry man... with a square wooden face". This is a very boring description, and it suggests that he is not a presentable person, which would be expected of a gentleman in Victorian times. Ultimately, I believe that it is very hard to decide which character is presented as the perfect gentleman. Characters such as Joe act as gentlemen in one way, but are not very affluent. On the other hand, a character such as Compeyson would be considered a gentleman by Victorians but are not very "gentle" as the word gentleman suggests. Therefore, I believe that Dickens presents the perfect gentleman as someone who has worked hard for his wealth, but is also a kind person. Herbert is presented as the perfect gentleman by Dickens through how Pip looks up to him from the moment he first meets him, and right to the end of the novel. ?? ?? ?? ?? English Coursework ...read more.

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