Can you please explain the relationship Pip and Magwitch (provis/ convict) throughout the novel from their first meeting to their last meeting?Can you please write how Pip feels about Magwitch in...

Can you please explain the relationship Pip and Magwitch (provis/ convict) throughout the novel from their first meeting to their last meeting?

Can you please write how Pip feels about Magwitch in the first chapter where he meets him and vise versa. Also, can you explain how Pip and Magwitch's relationship changes as the novel goes on and how they both feel for each other in Great Expecations.

Thank You.

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As Great Expectations opens with little Pip standing before the graves of his mother and father, the suggestion is made that Pip is in quest of a parent.  When the grave-colored man appears--"a fearful man, all in coarse gray"--Pip is at first terrified, but on their second meeting when Pip provides him the "wittles" that he has demanded, Pip expresses concern for the man's health as he eats, an action more indicative of one in a personal relationship than one of victim.  And, as the convict eats, "pitying his desolation," Pip tells him "I am glad you enjoy it." Then, as the soldiers come to capture the coarse man, Pip refers to him as "my convict," now clearly identifying with him.  Once taken prisoner again, the convict turns to Joe and apologizes for stealing his food; for the second time, something clicks in his throat as Joe kindly replies, "you're welcome to it."  This click indicates an emotional feeling toward Pip.

In addition to his search for a parental figure, Pip is perhaps more connected to Magwitch in his feelings of guilt that prevail throughout the narrative.  In his essay, "Imagery and Theme in Great Expectations," Robert Barnard writes,

...the guilt of one character tinges the other characters, just as the moral regeneration of one character tinges the others. Thus all the characters participate in the fallen state of the others, and participate in their redemption too.

Metaphorically, Pip the boy expresses this connection as his "awful promise [that] had been extracted" from him which becomes "a load on my leg" and he feels the cold of the marsh as though it were "iron the leg of the man." As a young man, Pip yet feels his connection to Magwitch in his guilt over his sister's death.  Having learned of her death, he is haunted by her presence in his dreams and feels "a shock of regret." After his arrival at the forge, when the leg-iron is produced as the murder weapon, Pip's guilt is indeed symbolically connected to the old convict. Also, much like Magwitch who describes his life as one in which he was caught in "all sorts of traps as Compeyson could set," Pip feels himself trapped in his servile love for Estella, caught up in Jaggers's clever maneuverings, and trapped in a compromising situation when the old convict returns to inform him that he is his benefactor. 

Finally, with the unexpected arrival of Magwitch, the adult Pip becomes again entwined not only with guilt, but with his personal relationship with the convict. Now more than ever, Pip has been placed in the role of son, but it is a role that repels him as he is now a gentleman who does not wish to be associated with a "varmit" such as Magwitch.  However, the guilt that  connects Pip to the old convict renews his quest for a father and Magwitch somewhat magically (to the pun on his name), if not ironically, acts a catalyst to effect Pip's reformation from a selfish young man to a loving, devoted son and friend.  For, Pip not only unselfishly tries to help Magwitch escape London, but he is solicitous to the injured and dying man, comforting him physically and emotionally as he informs him of his beautiful daughter Estella whom he loves.  After Magwitch dies, Pip returns to the forge as the prodigal son whose guilt and shame are overcome by his need for a father.  He begs forgiveness of Joe, and receives it lovingly.  Thus, because of Magwitch, Pip is able to return to his early goodness of character.

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Great Expectations

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