Pip promises that he will come back to his village and do something for everyone. Do you think he will keep this promise?Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

 the next day after learning of his "great expectations," Pip in Chapter XIX attends church with Joe; later that day, he strolls around on the marshes for a final look:

As I passed the church, I felt (as I had felt during service in the morning) a sublime compassion for the poor creatures who were destined to go there, Sunday after Sunday, all their lives through, and to lie obscurely at last among the low green mounds. I promised myself that I would do something for them one of these days, and formed a plan in outline for bestowing a dinner of roast-beef and plum-pudding, a pint of ale, and a gallon of condescension, upon everybody in the village.

With his opportunity to become a gentleman, Pip then begins to imagine the importance of Joe's being educated, encouraging Biddy to do all that she can to elevate him because Pip may pull Joe out of the marshes and bring him "to a higher sphere."  Biddy asks Pip, "Have you never considered that he may be proud?"

With "disdainful emphasis," Pip repeats her word "Proud?" And, after Biddy explains, Pip arrogantly says,

"I am sorry to see this in you.  You are envious, Biddy, and grudging.  You are dissatisfied on account of my rise in fortune, and you can't help showing it."

"If you have the heart to think so," returned Biddy, "say so.  Say so over and over again, if you have the heart to think so."

With these indications in his conversation with Biddy of Pip's growing arrogance and sense of superiority, it seems doubtful that he will want to maintain a relationship with the community, or that he will return to show his gratitude.  With his awareness that he will soon have money and be a gentleman, Pip now feels superior to those on the marshes; his statement that he will return and feed "those poor creatures who were destined to go" to the church rings of condescension--Pip himself says he will give the villagers "a gallon of condescension." More than likely, it is an empty promise that Pip makes to himself.  

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Great Expectations

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