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In Great Expectations, what is significant about the fact that Pip is also burned in...

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summerrain101 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 14, 2013 at 12:42 AM via web

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In Great Expectations, what is significant about the fact that Pip is also burned in the fire?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 14, 2013 at 6:43 AM (Answer #1)

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There is a sense in which characters receive what they deserve in this story. Miss Havisham, as befitting somebody who has taken Estella and made, quite intentionally, a heartless woman, whose job it is to ruin men and hurt them, is actually guilty herself of ruining both Estella's life and also the life of Pip, the "victim" she brings in for Estella to learn her arts on. Her suffering through burning is therefore shown to be a result of her crimes. However, it is important to remember that Pip himself is not entirely innocent, and that his "great expectations" have led him to hurt others and to act in a way that is not true to his character, especially towards Joe and Biddy. To this extent, his punishment is only minor compared to Miss Havisham, but it is important to the novel that he is hurt by the experience:

When I got up, on the surgeon's coming to her with other aid, I was astonished to see that both my hands were burnt; for, I had no knowledge of it through the sense of feeling.

Pip must acknowledge his own crimes and sins in this novel, even though arguably he may be viewed as more sinned against than sinning. His own burning points towards the change in his character and his own greater maturity that he has gained through the experience.

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summerrain101 | Student, Grade 10 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 14, 2013 at 9:18 PM (Reply #1)

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Thank you! This helped me very much!

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