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How is the theme "true goodness does not come from social station or wealth; it comes...

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cameronc98 | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 31, 2012 at 4:40 PM via web

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How is the theme "true goodness does not come from social station or wealth; it comes from inner worth" demonstrated in Great Expectations?

Provide three examples of this idea.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 16, 2012 at 10:21 PM (Answer #1)

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Great Expectations exemplifies the theme “true goodness does not come from social station or wealth; it comes from inner worth” because Pip wants to be a gentleman so he can be worthy of Estella.  Unfortunately, most of the characterswith high social status do not have enough inner worth, including Pip when he rises to his expectations.

Miss Havisham is the perfect example of money not equaling happiness or goodness.  She is a bitter old woman who wreaks havoc over both Pip and Estella’s lives.  She was targeted by Compeyson because of her wealth, and he left her at the altar.  She never recovered, and wanted to wreak revenge on all the male sex” (ch 22, p. 121). 

Estella is not happy either, for much the same reason.  She does not marry for love, she marries to marry.

“I am going,” she said again, in a gentler voice, “to be married to him. The preparations for my marriage are making, and I shall be married soon…It is my own act.” (ch 44, p. 245)

Estella has grown into a cold woman from Miss Havisham’s tutoring.  She knows that no matter how much money she has, she will never be happy.

By contrast, Joe and Biddy are perfectly happy with their simple lives.  Neither ever wants more than what they have.

I thought, “Yet Joe, dear Joe, you never tell of it. Long-suffering and loving Joe, you never complain. Nor you, sweet-tempered Biddy!” (ch 52, p. 283)

Biddy and Joe have real goodness.  They are not bitter.  They treat people with respect, and always treat Pip with love and affection no matter how badly he treats them.

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