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Why, in your opinion, did Dickens choose to tell the story of Great Expectations from Pip's point of view?

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Introduction

Why, in your opinion, did Dickens choose to tell the story of Great Expectations from Pip's point of view? There are many possible explanations as to why Charles Dickens chose to write the novel in first person, from the view of a young boy named Pip. It is likely that Dickens found it easy to empathise with him, having a tough childhood himself. There are many ways in which Dickens' own early experiences of hardship and injustice are reflected in Pip, namely the way in which he was forced to work in a factory while his older sister attended an academy and was extremely successful. Dickens himself was very ambitious and dreamed of a better quality of life, which he believed he deserved. This is mirrored to some extent by the way in which Pip's older sister, who acted as his guardian, treated him as inferior and physically abused him. Pip has great expectations for his own life, hence the title of the novel. Another parallel between the lives of Pip and Dickens is the way that Dickens' first love, Maria Beadnell, allegedly rejected him due to social class differences. This is very similar to the way in which Estella repeatedly insults Pip, criticising his "coarse hands" and "rough boots", labelling him a "common labour boy". ...read more.

Middle

The way the novel is written shows the reader Pip's loneliness, fear and sensitivity. As a young man, Pip has great expectations for life and moves to London in order to become a gentleman suitable for Estella. Initially he feels a little uncomfortable as the situation is so foreign to him, and inferior due to his background and lack of manners. Though we sympathise with Pip and the way in which he was bullied as a little boy, some of the sympathy is forfeited when he becomes a young adult, particularly after his treatment of Joe. In trying to desperately to be a gentleman he became a snob, which is shown when Jo visits him, and is snubbed. It is clear that he is reluctant for Joe to visit at all: "If I could have paid money for Joe to stay away, I most certainly would have". While the sympathies originally felt may have waned, it could be argued that everyone makes mistakes and has faults, and this just makes him seem more human rather than simply the caricatured "victim" stereotype. Dickens next writes in a more sentimental manner, portraying Miss Havisham on her deathbed. Pip shows his maturity in this scene, as he sees Miss Havisham as a poor, lonely old woman whom he pities rather than an object of a childish nightmare. ...read more.

Conclusion

Also, as the last sentence is ambiguous, in a sense the novel does not really end, because life itself does not end, and neither do the lives of the characters in our imaginations. To conclude, Dickens used Pip as the voice of the novel as the reader had a greater insight into Pip's journey of life through him telling us himself. As he speaks through the first person narrative, it makes it easy for the reader for the reader to predict what will happen before Pip does. A good example of this is the identity of his benefactor. The reader is very aware of his strengths and his faults, for example his kindliness, his naivety and, temporarily, his later selfishness. Great Expectations is a story of rise, fall and redemption, and the reader sees this journey through Pip's eyes. Being such a good central character makes Pip a better narrator, as he is very human and is in no way caricatured. Although initially he fits the "innocent victim" stereotype, this is not consistent with the remainder of the novel. The main point of the story is that those without the Great Expectations, such as Joe and Biddy, were content with their simple lives, yet the expectations of Pip and Estella meant that they would never be satisfied as they could never meet them. Dickens here is making a valid point about human nature, which is conveyed extremely clearly by Pip, and the reader sees the novel through his eyes. Marilyn Wilkinson ...read more.

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