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Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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In chapter 8, what does Pip's reaction to Estella's particular criticism tell us about him?

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After having been told to follow her up a dark stairway and ordered to not "loiter boy," Pip finds himself in the dressing room of Miss Havisham, who asks Estella to play cards with Pip.  Glancing at Pip in disgust, Estella reacts vehemently,

"With this boy!  Why, he is a common laboring boy!"

Nevertheless, she does play a card game with Pip, although she criticizes his use of the word jacks for knaves.  After Miss Havisham wearies of watching the children, she orders Pip to return in six days; Estella leads him back down the darkened stairway to a landing where she orders Pip to remain.  As he stands there, Pip scrutinizes his hands and his "common boots":

They had never troubled me before, but they troubled me now.  I determined to ask Joe why he had ever taught me to call those picture cards knave...I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up and then I should have been so, too.

Thus, Pip becomes ashamed of his clothing and his social status.  He senses that Estella views him as her inferior--a "common" low-class boy- -and he does not like such a pretty girl to think so poorly of him. Clearly, Pip feels inferior for the first time, and it bothers him to view Estella as one who is more privileged and superior to him. He would also like to elevate himself from his "low-lived, bad way."

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