What influences shape young Pip's character in 'Great Expectations

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James Sismey-Durrant


What influences shape young Pip’s character in ‘Great Expectations?

‘Great Expectations’ tells the story of a young boy named Pip. It shows us how his life is drastically turned around at the early age of seven, following the accidental meeting of the convict Magwich.  There are many different events ranging from his meeting the convict, and Miss Havisham, his falling in love with Estella and his fortunate gaining of an unknown benefactor, which enables Pip to achieve more promising things in life. These events all play a huge part in how Pip is to turn out. And this cocktail of events greatly influences moulds and shapes the person he is and is to become. There are also some much less obvious ways that help shape him, such as his upbringing and the way he is treated by adults around him. And the quality of his education. The story shows how Pip gradually learns more about the world and society he lives in and how he desperately wants to change, and the way he is shaped and nurtured into the extraordinary character he is. These are just a few of the things that influence Pip into changing and becoming and gentleman.


Pips character is greatly influenced by the way he is brought up and the way he is treated by adults. Adults tended often look down on Pip, as it was the norm in those days and he was taught to except it. It tells us how he was used to being miss treated by adults. He is often told he should not speak unless spoken to, “Drat that boy… what a questioner he is. Ask no questions and ill tell you no lies.” The idea of children should only speak when spoken to, or children should be seen and not heard, can be seen clearly here and it means that pip tends to be quite reserved and afraid to speak. It also makes him more inquisitive as he is often eager to know more but is not allowed to ask. Mrs Joe is often scaring Pip in saying that, “People are put in the hulks because the murder, and because they rob and forge, and do all sorts of bad; and they always start by asking questions” it means that Pip when he does speak is often very weary of the reaction, and the consequences of it. It also leads him to pose his questions more politely and carefully, “Mrs Joe…I should like to know- if you wouldn’t much mind- where the firing comes from?” it shows how scared he is of how people, Mrs Joe in particular, are going to react.

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In addition, children are constantly being tested and watched by adults to see if they slip up any way. This leads Pip to be very careful of his actions and very self-conscious of himself. For example, when he stole from the pantry for the convict he is always worried and conscience of what he has done, “I got up and went down stairs; every board along the way, and every crack in every board, calling after me, Stop thief! And get up Mrs Joe!”  He is also often present when adults made rude remarks about children and how horrible ...

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