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By the end of the novel, Pip has discovered who he really is and has become an honorable man instead of a selfish child.
When he first meets Miss Havisham and Estella, they teach him to be ashamed of himself. Yet we can see the adult narrator thinking back, ashamed of this shame.
I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it. (ch 8, p. 42)
Pip begins to be offended by Joe, and tries to live like a gentleman. He turns his back on his family.
When he is older and has lost his fortune, Pip does come to appreciate his family. In the last chapter, Pip comments that he has not seen his family.
Pip’s actions in helping Magwitch and Herbert show that he has turned a new leaf. Although Pip was horrified when he first learned that Miss Havisham was not his benefactor, he did come to care about Magwitch like a father. Pip also set Herbert up in a job, but did not tell him. He did not want recognition—he just wanted his friend to be happy.
FOR ELEVEN YEARS I had not seen Joe nor Biddy with my bodily eyes—though they had both been often before my fancy in the East. (ch 59, p. 323)
When Biddy asks Pip how he feels about Estella, he admits that the dream is almost done. They become friends, but Estella is still fairly emotionless. Pip accepts this, and says he will not part from her again.
Great Expectations, more than any other of Dickens’ works, shows a mature attitude toward success and love. When he wrote David Copperfield, Dickens was a young man and optimistically in love. Great Expectations shows a different, almost bitter view of life. Yet Pip changes for the better. He does become a terrible person—vain and selfish, immature and frustratingly naive—when he gets his money. Yet when he loses it, he becomes an honest, kind, and honorable person. Dickens seems to be telling us that who we are, not what we have, is what matters.
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