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Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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In chapter 8, how does Estella criticize Pip, and what does his reaction to her criticism reveal about Pip?

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In Chapter 8 of "Great Expectations" Pip arrives at Satis House after having been brought by Uncle Pumblechook at the request of Miss Havisham.  He is there to play with Estella, who haughtily refuses,

'With this boy?  Why, he's a common labouring boy!'

Estella ridicules him further:

'He calls the knaves jacks, this boy!...And what coarse hands he has!  And what thick boots!'

For the first time in his life, Pip feels inferior and is ashamed of being "common" and now he is even ashamed of Joe. Pip remarks that his "coarse hands and common boots"

...had never troubled me before, but they troubled me now.  I determined to ask Joe why he had ever taught me to call those picture cards jacks, which ought to be called knaves.  I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and I should have been so too.

Pip even cries afterwards, having been so easily affected by Estella's cruelty and his peremptory assumption that she is  superior to him.  This reaction demonstrates Pip's ingenuousness and foreshadows his desire to become a gentleman, hoping to, thereby, become a better person.  Clearly, the motifs of the deception of appearances and false values are introduced in this early chapter of Dickens's novel.

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