How does Pip change and return to valuing kindness after he becomes aware of the truth of his expectations? Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (Only one question allowed at a time)

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence.  There's no better rule."

This is the advice that Mr. Jaggers gives Pip in Chapter XL of Great Expectations as a disturbed and accusatory Pip comes to him with the knowledge that Magwitch, not the old aristocrat Miss Havisham, is his benefactor. This discovery that the coarse "man in gray" has been financing him as he strives to become a gentleman, shatters Pip's dreams of attaining social class as he is horrified that the convict has been his supporter.  Now, there seems little chance for him to attain any social acceptance among the upper class.  Like Pumblechook, "the basest of swindlers," Pip feels himself a "self-swindler." 

Realizing how false his hopes have been, Pip seeks at first to repulse Magwitch's display of affection for him.  However, when the old man relates his own history, Pip's heart fills with sympathy as he learns what a hard life the poor man has spent.  Later, he and Herbert attempt to get Magwitch out of London and the country, but the old convict is fatally injured.  During his last days, the old Pip of his childhood experiences a rebirth, and Pip attends to the man's comfort.  While he sits with Magwitch, Pip tells Magwitch what he has learned from Wemmick, his friend:  Estella is his child, and she is a lady. Naturally,this knowlege that such a beautiful girl could be his child comforts Magwitch. Then, Pip takes his place beside the old convict,

"I will never stir from your side," said I, "When I am suffered to be near you.  Please God, I will be as true to you as you have been to me."

I felt his hand tremble as it held mine, and he turned his face away....

As Magwitch dies, Pip prays, "O Lord, be merciful to him, a sinner."  And, later, Pip begs forgiveness for himself from Joe and Biddy, whom he asks to receive him "like a forgiven child,...a little worthier" of her than he has been, but not much, he tells her.

Pip's earlier innocence and love is what he must return to if he would be forgiven by Joe and Biddy.  Pip is the prodigal son who returns to his understanding of kindness and love.  When, for instance, Miss Havisham asks him to forgive her, Pip readily writes that he does and signs his name.  He meets, too, with Estella whose hand he takes, "We are friends," he tells her.  So, while Pip realizes,

My great expectations had all dissolved, like our own marsh mists before the sun."

he also becomes aware that the love of Joe and the "larks" with Joe are of far greater value than becoming a gentleman of any material object.  Pip now has the "evidence" of love, not the "appearances" of being something he is not.  Pip has truly become a gentleman in his heart.

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Great Expectations

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