What are some examples of snobbery found in "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens?

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We usually think of snobbery as something committed by Miss Havisham and Estella. However, Pip also shows snobbery in Chapter 12 when he and Joe visit Miss Havisham. Even though Joe is dressed in his Sunday clothes, the best he has, Pip is embarrassed by the way Joe looks. He decides that Joe he “looked far better in his working dress.” Pip is even more embarrassed when Joe refuses to talk to Miss Havisham directly and instead talks to her through Pip. Pip says, “I was ashamed of the dear good fellow.” Even then, Pip is showing the beginnings of becoming a snob by wishing Joe would be something he can never be. And yet Joe is the best father-figure a boy could wish for. When Pip begins his apprenticeship, he is ashamed of being a blacksmith. He says, “it is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home.” He is terribly afraid that Estella might come to the forge and see Joe and Pip working and getting dirty at the fire. So Pip tries to teach Joe simply because“wanted to make Joe less ignorant and common, that he might be worthier of my society and less open to Estella’s reproach.” At this point, Pip snobbery makes it impossible for him to truly appreciate Joe's guidance and friendship.

morrol eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One example of snobbery is on the part of Estella and her rejection of Pip. While playing a card game, she refers to Pip as a "Jack" which is a pun on the word "knave". She suggests that Pip is below her and that she should not associate with him because of that. Pip is drawn to Estella, whose name means "star", but is snubbed by her. Estella has learned her snobbery from Miss Havisham who was snubbed by her former fiance. The act of snubbing in the novel is an attempt to obtain power over others, and is a major theme in the novel.

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Great Expectations

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