Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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How did Pip mature throughout the book? how did he grow as a person, and how did he change from the beginning to the end of the book.

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This novel is a coming of age novel for Pip. Throughout the narrative, the reader is drawn into Pip's maturation process as he achieves his "expectations." Because of his orphan status and the fact that he lives with his sister, who is severe with him, he lives in constant fear of being whipped as a boy. He is sensitive and is easily intimidated by people and events which come his way in the novel. He cowers before his sister, he lives in fear of the convict (Magwitch) for years and he is constantly intimidated and used by Estella and Miss Havisham. He is also naive. For years, he believes that Miss Havisham is his secret benefactor, in spite of the vicious way in which she uses him to "train" Estella.

As Pip grows up and goes to London his life really hits a downward spiral. When he recovers both his mind and his health, he realizes that what he thought were his "expectations" have been pretty messed up. Pip's lessons do not come easily and in the end, when he loses his wealth, he realizes what is truly important in life - family, friends, love.

Pip's growth process is pretty realistic, don't you think? Even though the novel is set in a time and place far removed from our own, life seldom follows an easy path as we learn its lessons. We take steps forward, we take steps backward, but as long as we are making progress, we are doing OK. This is what happens with Pip. He makes mistakes, but he recovers. In the end, these lessons make him strong.

Read about the novel here on eNotes. You can read the text as well.

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