Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations book cover
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Explain the nature of Pip's journey to moral and psychological maturity in Great Expectations.

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Much of Great Expectations is about Pip's journey to moral and psychological maturity. Pip reaches maturity through adversity and, as many adolescents do, through realizing and accepting that the world is more complicated and uncontrollable than he once believed.

Pip's great expectations, which exalt the orphaned boy from a would-be blacksmith to a wealthy gentleman, at first turn him into a snob. He measures people by their outward appearances: how they speak, what they wear, and how much money they have. He becomes ashamed of his dear old friend and mentor, the good-hearted Joe, because he is a humble blacksmith who doesn't speak well. He is mortified when he discovers his benefactor is not Miss Havisham, a lady, but the convict Magwitch.

Pip's journey to maturity, which involves living so far above his means that he gets heavily into debt, teaches him to value the true worth of people like Joe, Joe's second wife, Biddy, and Magwitch for their kindness, loyalty, and good intentions. As he matures, he learns it is not money or outward status but what a person is like on the inside that counts. He is ashamed of how he has treated Joe and even more ashamed when Joe and Biddy pay his debts.

Pip also matures as he learns life isn't going to work out the way he expects or wants. Pip had taught himself to believe that he was destined to marry Estella, so it is a shock and adjustment when she marries another man—and a cruel man at that.

Pip ends up humbler, wiser, and more mature person for having gone through these losses and disappointments.

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