In Great Expectations, pick a character and identify whether they stay the same or develop over the story.

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This question relates to character and whether it can be described as static or dynamic. These two states relate to whether the character stays the same (static) or whether they are shown to develop, learn and grow as the story progresses (dynamic). One of the best characters to analyse with regards to this is clearly Pip, who is shown to develop throughout the story at many different stages and in many different ways. The first of these major changes occurs in Chapter 8 after he has visited Miss Havisham and met Estella for the first time. Note what he thinks to himself as he walks back:

...I was a common labouring-boy; that my hands were coarse, that my boots were thick; that I had fallen into the despicable habit of calling the knaves Jacks; that I was much more ignorant than I had considered myself last night, and generally that I was in a low-lived bad way.

Note the sudden change from Pip's relative happiness and innocence with his lot in life to suddenly feeling inadequate and deeply unhappy with everything about his working class existence. What Estella has done is inject class consciousness into Pip, and as a result robbed him of any sense of ease with his humble origins. This of course causes him to aspire to rise in society, and as the novel shows, this causes him to turn his back on those who love him, such as Biddy and Joe, and treat them shamefully. It is only after the truth about his mystery benefactor is revealed, and when he is seriously burned when attempting to save Miss Havisham, that Pip becomes humbled again, and is able to reflect on his life and see the many mistakes he has made. All this clearly goes to show that Pip is the central character that experiences most change in this novel: he certainly does not stay static.


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