In Great Expectations, how does Pip change after visiting Miss Havisham?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Key to understanding what actually happens to Pip and how he changes in Chapter 8, which narrates his first of many visits to Satis House into the realms of Miss Havisham, is the concept of class consciousness. What is awakened in Pip through this first meeting is a deep sense of his own inferiority and his poor social standing in the world. Note how this is primarily achieved through the helpful comments that Estella gives whilst she is "beggaring" him and following Miss Havisham's instructions to "break [his] heart". During this card game, Estella remarks about Pip:

"He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!" said Estella, with disdain, before our first game was out. "And what coarse hands he has! And what thick boots!"

I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before, but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong that it became infectious, and I caught it.

Thus Pip has a moment of insight where the profound disdain of Estella makes him unhappy with himself and his lot in life. Thus begins his association of Great Expectations with Estella, and heralds his dissatisfaction with being a mere apprentice at an iron forge. His exposure to the beauty but also the snobbishness of the upper classes (as modelled in Estella) has marked the death knell of Pip's simple but satisfactory life. It takes him the course of the rest of the novel for Pip to realise how hollow Great Expectations actually are.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All of the sudden, the life he had seemed meaningless. 

He lies, although this is nothing new for Pip, he has lied before. But his previous lies were always to cover his mistakes or sins. Now, he lies only because he can. He realizes that Miss Havisham's home is a place he can go and do something and no one else can know what was going on there. It seems as if there is this goal of escape that he is now able to have fulfilled.

We do get to see the friendship between Joe and Pip bloom. Pip cannot keep the truth from Joe because they are best friends. We saw this earlier with the issue of the bread and butter.

So, since being at Miss Havisham's Pip has grown in his ability to be sneaky, his ability to have a trusting relationship, and his desire for something more than what he currently has although this last quality will take several trips to come to full fruition.

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Great Expectations

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