What are different observations and quotes characters make about Pip throughout Great Expectations?e.g. Estella realizes that he is different from other men and thus refuses to break his heart....

What are different observations and quotes characters make about Pip throughout Great Expectations?

e.g. Estella realizes that he is different from other men and thus refuses to break his heart.

and Joe observes that even as a child Pip is an "uncommon Scholar"

Asked on by wolffisho1

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

One of Pip's greatest shortcomings in Great Expectations is his measuring of himself against the values and comments of others.  For instance, in Chapter 8 Pip considers himself "morally timid and very sensitive" because of the cold, harsh treatment and words of Mrs. Joe, who has called him "you staring great stuck pig," and has remarked, 

"It's bad enough to be a blacksmith's wife, and him a Gargery, without being your mother."

Reinforcing this suppression of Pip, Uncle Pumblechook--whom Pip is not allowed to call "Uncle"--speaks to Pip only in remonstrance:

"Especially...be grateful, boy, to them which brought you up by hand."

Then, scoured and scolded not to "loiter, boy" by Pumblechook for his visit at Satis House to play with a young lady, his already battered self-image, held up only by Joe's loving words that he is "uncommon" and a "scholar," Pip meets Estella.  In utter disdain, she scorns him as "a common labouring boy," with "coarse hands" and "common boots." She tells Miss Havisham that she does not want to play with him, and Pip hears Miss Havisham whisper, "Well?  You can break his heart." Later, noticing Pip's injured feelings, Estella cruelly asks him "Why don't you cry?" and later repeats, "Why don't you cry again, you little wretch?"

It is because of the insults of Estella that Pip feels he is inferior, and thus desires to become a gentleman in order to elevate himself to acceptance by people whom he considers superior to him. For instance, his encounter with "the pale young gentleman" at Satis House, Pip feels, "His spirit inspired me with great respect."  And, when Estella tells him "Come here! You may kiss me if you like!" Pip senses the elevation to which he aspires.  

Opening his heart to Biddy about his desire to be a gentleman "on account" of Estella, Biddy quietly asks,

"Do you want to be a gentleman to spite her or to gain her over?...Because, if it is to spite her...I should think...that might be better and more independently done by caring nothing for her words.  And if it is gain her over, I should think--but you know best--she was not worth gaining over....I am glad of one thing...and that is, that you have felt you could give me your confidence, Pip."

When Pip accuses her of being envious of his rise in fortune, Biddy sarcastically and disparagingly observes of Pip,

"If you have the heart to think so...say so.  Say so over and over again, if you have the heart to think so."

Of course, Mr. Jaggers has a disparaging attitude toward Pip feeling that he is

not designed for any profession, and that [Pip] should be well enough educated for [his] destiny if [he] could "hold my own" with the average of young men in persperous circumstances. 

As he perceives Pip's delusion of "the stupendous power of money," he later tells Pip, "Of course you'll go wrong."  In addition to Mr. Jaggers, Joe, also, recognizes the pretentious alterations in Pip's nature:

...Diwisions among such must come, and must be met as they come...You and me is not two figures to be together in London; nor yet anywheres else but what is private."

Yet, Joe continues to give of his heart to Pip, who later returns as the prodigal son, asking forgiveness, much as Provis/Magwitch has sought the love of Pip, whom he has called "Dear boy" for having sought his escape from London. Also seeking forgiveness has been Miss Havisham, who finally calls Pip "my dear" as well.

We’ve answered 317,689 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question