In Great Expectations, what does Pip mean by "my own ingratitude"?

Expert Answers
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote is from the end of the first part of Great Expectations, in chapter 19.  It is a beautiful, haunting quote.  It goes like this:

"Heaven knows we need never be ashamed of our tears, for they are rain upon the blinding dust of earth, overlying our hard hearts. I was better after I had cried, than before—more sorry, more aware of my own ingratitude, more gentle. If I had cried before, I should have had Joe with me then."

It is in this instance that Pip really steps back and looks at who he is, and who he has become.  He realizes that it is ok to regret what he has done, and who he has wronged.  He feels softened by his tears, as if they let him know that he is human.  By feeling sorry for what he has done, he makes himself aware of his mistakes.  Being aware that we have made mistakes is the first step to correcting them.

Pip realizes that he should have been nicer to Joe, and regrets his ingratitude.  Unfortunately, Pip still goes on to London and does not really change.  In reaching up to his “great expectations” he loses sight of everything else, and he ultimately does not learn this lesson at this time.

Read the study guide:
Great Expectations

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question