English / Redemptive Rewards: The Progression Of Pip

Redemptive Rewards: The Progression Of Pip

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Autor:  anton  06 January 2011
Tags:  Redemptive,  Rewards,  Progression
Words: 2480   |   Pages: 10
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In Pip, Charles Dickens has created a significant character swayed by the pressure of social status in nineteenth-century London. Throughout Great Expectations, he faces many internal and external struggles, along his path of becoming an educated, wealthy and well-respected gentleman. While he reaps many benefits of being among the upper class of society, he damages several relationships with people who truly care about him. He leaves them in his past and has no intentions of returning to them for anything, all because their position in life is below his. When he becomes a gentleman, he finds that it is improper to associate with the common. His viewpoints from the beginning of the novel and his viewpoints when he finally attains his goal of becoming a gentleman are vastly contrasted. Pip's development can be divided into a stage of innocence, a stage of sin, and a stage of redemption.

Growing up at the forge with Joe formed Pip's stage of innocence. His life at the forge was somewhat peaceful and content, despite Mrs. Joe's violent outbursts. While Pip was not fully satisfied with his lifestyle, because of his harsh sister, he was not concerned in any way with being wealthy or becoming someone of importance. He was generally comfortable and at ease with his life, because he was born and raised as a commoner and knows not of the pleasures of being amongst of the upper-class society. In the household, the only person Pip could really talk to on his own level was Joe. Mrs. Joe was a hard woman to express one's inner most thoughts with and it was by far, much easier to talk to Joe about certain things. Pip exhibits the reason behind why he admires Joe by stating, “I loved Joe- perhaps for no better reason for in those early days than because the dear fellow let me love him" (Dickens 40). His relationship with Joe was very strong but he often worried what the consequences would be if he happened to lose Joe’s confidence or trust. He reveals his worry about the outcome if the situation were to occur by saying, “The fear of losing Joe’s confidence and of thenceforth sitting in the chimney-corner at night staring drearily at my forever lost companion and friend, tied up my tongue” (Dickens 40). He learned, of course, that Joe wouldn’t love him any less whatever wrongdoing he committed.

Pip's first encounter with Magwitch in the churchyard, as a young boy, served a critical portion of the story. When the convict approached, Pip felt alarmed, confused, and sympathetic. While Pip felt threatened by the convict, he also couldn’t help but feel compassion for the man. When he brings the convict what he ordered, Pip commiserates on the man’s lack of warmth, shelter and decent clothes. The convict will never be absent from Pip's life, and this fact is known by the frequent references of him, by Pip. There are also incidences that cannot merely be filed under "coincidence". One particular circumstance, which took place in the Jolly Bargeman, is an evident clue that the convict will play a larger role in Pip’s life down the road. While sitting with Joe, Mr. Wopsle, and a stranger, Pip is shocked to see Joe’s exact file being used to stir the stranger’s drink. Whereas Pip is already startled now that he recognizes the convict, he is even more astonished when the stranger hands him a shilling wrapped in what he later discovers is a two-pound note.

Pip's first meeting with Miss Havisham and Estella at the Satis House was a major turning point in Pip's existence and forever altered his point of view on life. Pip's meeting with Miss Havisham and Estella, exposed to him that being of higher class made one more acceptable in society. Estella's harsh comments about Pip's common ways and standard of living deeply hurt him. He retreats to the courtyard to cry. He examines himself: “I took the opportunity of being alone in the courtyard to look at my coarse hands and common boots. My opinions of these accessories were not favorable. They had never troubled me before, but they troubled me now as vulgar appendages” (Dickens 60). At this moment he blames Joe and his sister for raising him as a commoner. The following statement exhibits his displeasure: “I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so, too” (Dickens 60). From this moment on, he decided that all that was in store for him in life was to be a gentleman and climb his way to the top ranks of society.

His decision to become a gentleman caused him to begin using others to his advantage. An example of this would be Biddy. He used her to learn as much as he could for a purpose that wasn't at all worth it to pursue, considering that the upper classes consisted of arrogant and unfeeling people. Pip comes to the sense of using Biddy to his advantage: “The felicitous idea occurred to me a morning or two later when I woke that the best step I could take towards making myself uncommon was too get out of Biddy everything she knew” (Dickens 71). His relationship to Biddy was a grateful and kind one, as he appreciated her teaching him, when his actual teacher was constantly napping during which lessons should be taught. However, since his experience with Estella and Miss Havisham, he made use of Biddy for the sole purpose of becoming a gentlemen and educated, in which he did not know at the time, would make him ruin important relationships with those he originally cared about. Pip's past is not forgotten, but he tries to make it so, by taking a completely diverse path in life and leaving his past behind him.

In London, Pip is exposed to a wholly different level of affluence and at this point his innocence develops into a stage of sin. Suddenly commoners are as valuable as dirt to him, and not worth his time. His personality and mindset is twisted and contorted by the actions of the haughty and conceited community that surrounds him and his original outlook on life matters no more. Before Pip moved to London, his relationship to Joe was a strong one. Joe deeply admired Pip and Pip loved him back and thought of him as a kind and goodhearted man. In spite of this, when he arrived in London and adapted to the new life there, his outlook on Joe became a mix between embarrassment and disgust. It caused Pip deep displeasure to hear of Joe coming by to visit him when he was living with Herbert Pocket: "Not with pleasure though I was bound to him by many ties; no; with considerable disturbance, some mortification, and a keen sense of incongruity" (Dickens 229). Pip imparts that he is worried about Herbert seeing Joe, and Drummle in particular. He was embarrassed of what others would think if they knew he was associated with such low commoners.

Apart from severing the bond between Joe and him, he misses out on many occurrences back at the forge. Where he should have been with his ailing sister, he chose to stay in London, and reap the benefits of living first class. Because of this selfish decision, his last living relative died and not without wishing for Pip's presence. The explanation biddy conveys to Pip, should have made Pip become consumed with shame and guilt: "And so she presently said 'Joe' again and once 'Pardon', and once 'Pip'. And so she never lifted her head up anymore, and it was just an hour, later when we laid it down on her own bed, because we found she was gone" (Dickens 301). The last word Mrs. Joe uttered was 'Pip', and Pip wasn't even there for her.

Though undoubtedly guilty to some degree, he still returns to London and continues with his newly modified arrogant, high-and-mighty lifestyle. People from the forge also lose faith in him. When Pip informs Biddy that he will visit Joe often, she turns to him saying, "Are you quite sure, then, that you will come to see him often?" (Dickens 301), in a skeptical and slightly cold tone. Apart from the consequences of being absent from the forge for significant, life-changing events, he begins to indulge himself in things that he could not originally afford. Convinced that he now has the funds for material possessions, he uses his money unwisely with a gluttonous mind and soon he becomes bankrupt.

In Pip's adulthood, he was prejudiced against Magwitch for being filthy and brutish. When he learns that Magwitch is his true benefactor, he appalled and embarrassed that the filthy convict was the person who provided him his fortune. However, as Pip progresses in life, he begins to be thankful for Magwicth and enters into the stage of redemption. The relationship between Magwitch and Pip grows due to Pip's maturity. He soon becomes concerned with the man, and not the expectations that he could provide. Through fully appreciating Magwitch, Pip discovers the importance and the goodness of what Magwitch had done for him. After the accident with the boat, Pip stays and cares for his benefactor. The following statement marks the full significance of Pip’s unwavering devotion to Magwitch: “I took my place by Magwitch’s side, and I felt that that was my place henceforth while he lived” (Dickens 474), and also exhibits the change in Pip's mindset. His different opinions on certain things prove that Pip is maturing. His statement concerning his new feelings of Magwitch is also exposed when Pip states, “For now my repugnance to him had all melted away, and in the hunted wounded shackled creature who held my hand in his, I only saw a man who had meant to be my benefactor, and who had felt affectionately, gratefully, and generously towards me with great constancy through a series of years. I only saw in him a much better man than I had been to Joe” (Dickens 475). A little later Herbert offers Pip a job with his firm, but Pip declines insisting that he will remain by Magwitch’s side and care for him. A touching thought spoke in Pip's mind as he sat alongside Magwitch's bedside. As Magwitch was breathing his last breaths he thinks to himself, “I pressed his hand in silence, for I could not forget that I had once meant to desert him” (Dickens 489). Herbert is Pip’s greatest friend, but he is living off a low income. Pip shows his appreciation for Herbert, by helping to fund his business. It took a lot of courage for Pip to go to the Satis House and ask for Miss Havisham’s assistance. This is a step for Pip to let go of some of his selfishness to help a person he loves, in need.

The relationship between Pip and Joe develops once Pip realizes how valuable of a friend Joe is. Joe Gargery was Pip's greatest friend, yet Pip took him for granted. He did not show any signs of gratitude for Joe's constant friendship. Joe, who loves Pip unconditionally, would do anything for Pip. A great example of Joe’s ultimate love for Pip would be when he rushes to Pip when he gets word that he is arrested for his debts and is too ill to go to prison. Joe goes to him and nurses him to health full heartedly. The small reunion is awkward for both of them. Pip is aware of how unjustly he treated Joe and expects him to be angry and urges Joe to hit him. Joe speaks to Pip with kindness and nurtures him, but as soon as Pip begins to recover Joe tenses and begins to call Pip “Sir” again, assuming that Pip still looked down on him in a lowly manner. The next day Joe was gone and there was a receipt declaring that Pip was debt free. Ultimately, Pip realizes the trueness of his friendship with Joe, and eventually shows him the gratitude he deserves.

When Pip attended the Satis House as a young common boy, he was treated unfairly. Miss Havisham looked at him as just another member of the male sex, and therefore deserved to have his heart broken because she interpreted the male sex to be evil and conniving, only because her groom was a devious and heartless man. The relationship between Miss Havisham and Pip changes considerably when Pip is an adult. He goes to the Satis House and implores for her to assist him in funding his friend Herbert. Feeling tremendously guilty for the harm she has caused him, she agrees to help Herbert. She then begs Pip for forgiveness, crying out “What have I done?” several times. She admits that Pip pointed out her mistake, and that her only intent when she adopted Estella was to save her from the same hurts. She then realizes she stole the girl’s heart and put ice in its place. Though Miss Havisham has caused Pip much pain, he feels compassion for her in her loneliness and forgives her.

Estella's attitude also changes towards Pip. While Pip sits on the beach with Estella, eleven years later from the point he was imprisoned for debt, he notes that her beauty had faded, but her charm and majesty still remained. Pride and cruelty no longer dwelled in her eyes, but in its place resided sadness. Estella does not look at Pip in the way she once looked at him. She states that she thinks about him often, and proclaims that they are friends. The end of the novel Pip and Estella walk hand in hand down the ruined place, the Satis House, and through the morning mist.

The stages of innocence, sin, and redemption in Pip's life, helped mold his character and helped him to develop into maturity. In the beginning he is a content innocent child. However, as he matures and becomes a young adult, he wrestles with his inner struggles to find himself and determine who he really is, thus turning to a sinful life. During this difficult and confusing stage in life, he learns that the lifestyle of the wealthy is not always as it seems and that he was better off with the people he had before, and therefore he leaves his sin behind him, and redeems himself. The people, who truly cared for him, are the people he has wronged, but they don’t love him any less. From the beginning to the end of the novel, Pip loses and then rediscovers the importance of human relationships and kindness over wealth and position.

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Bantam Dell A Division of Random

House, Inc., 1986.

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