Which aspects of London appeal to Pip and which does he find offensive in Great Expectations?
Chapter 20 may be helpful
2 Answers | Add Yours
Originally serialised in 1860-61, and published as a book in late 1861, ''Great Expectations'' was one of Dickens's most popular novels and continues to be so even now.
As the name of the book itself suggests the story is essentially about 'great' i.e. 'unreal', 'exaggerated', 'over rated'-- expectations. In this case, the expectations spring from a number of sources : (a) Pip's own dreams and ambitions and his hopeless love for Estella and his desire to meet her 'standards' (b) the 'expectations' of other people from Pip (including Estella) who view him in the light of someone who has, somehow, been lucky enough to inherit wealth --or at least, has the 'expectation' of doing so according to their lights. This is absolutely the basic dilemma.
In any case, Pip is sent to London, ostensibly to obtain an 'education' and possibly a career; and Pip reacts in different ways to this great city or metropolis, finds it both 'good' and 'bad' from his various inclinations and and as a mistaken over estimation of his prospects and 'expectations'.
In simple terms we could say that Pip does not much like or enjoy these following aspects (broadly speaking, as examples can be taken from the text)
1. Working or studying or being in any way preoccupied with a career or profession.
2. The poverty and misery of London's slums and poorer folk, since he wants to escape/avoid their fate and attain a 'stellar' position and 'get' Estella too.
3. The class snobbery and conservative arrogance that prevails in so-called 'polite society' , which assigns someone as crass and bestial as Bentley Drummle a higher status than Pip, or many other nicer and more intelligent people.
On the other hand, Pip enjoys
1. London's gay and frivolous life, its hustle and bustle and lights and all that it has to offer a young man.
2. The sheer variety and fascinating scope of people who inhabit London, many of whom he meets and makes friends with and finds genuinely humane souls among.
I believe within these parameters, one could make a careful reading of the text itself and come up with seevral good examples.
Pip does not find London particularly pretty. He admits that most British people at the time refused to admit they did not have the best of everything, and London left a lot to be desired.
[While] I was scared by the immensity of London, I think I might have had some faint doubts whether it was not rather ugly, crooked, narrow, and dirty. (Chapter XX, p. 112)
Pip has a difficult time in London because although he has money, he has no guidance. Jaggers barely talks to him, and Wemmick is not much more help. Creditors and so-called friends take advantage of him, and he ends up deeply in debt because he has no idea how much money he has or how much he owes.
Through Jaggers, Wemmick, and Magwitch, Pip becomes aware second-hand of the criminal element in London. Magwitch's enemies are dangerous, and he is almost killed. The escape costs Magwitch his life, and Pip leaves London for good.
Join to answer this question
Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.Join eNotes