If Pip had not revived his great expectations and never left Joe's forge, how do you think his life would have been different? Are the lessons he learns during his physical and emotional journey...

If Pip had not revived his great expectations and never left Joe's forge, how do you think his life would have been different? Are the lessons he learns during his physical and emotional journey necessary for him to arrive at the wisdom he displays as the middle aged narrator in Great Expectations? In what ways?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Pip changes as a result of his great expectations and meeting Miss Havisham.  If he had not been chosen by Magwitch to become elevated to a gentleman, he would have remained a simple blacksmith.  Before he met Miss Havisham, he was happy with his simple life.  It was meeting Miss Havisham, and Estella, that changed his perception.  He looks at himself and his life completely differently after that.

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. (Ch. 8) 

Magwitch just gave him the tool to elevate himself.  Had he not met Magwitch, an unhappy blacksmith, but a blacksmith he would have remained.  The lesson he learns from Miss Havisham is to be ashamed of himself and his upbringing.  From the moment they meet him, Magwitch and Miss Havisham both toy with Pip and use him for their own ends.

In London, Pip learns to be a gentleman and begins to have a higher opinion of himself, but there is always doubt.  He continues to chase Estella, the unattainable love, and remains both selfish and immature.  Because of his emotionally stunted upbringing as a pawn of Miss Havisham (and likely having received no love as a child), he never grows and develops.  He gets no guidance from Jaggers and very little from Wemmick, and his friends are as hopeless as he is.

When Magwitch returns and his old life returns to haunt him, his new life comes crashing down.  Pip develops the first real relationship he has had, in a way, with Magwitch.  It is extremely short though, because it takes him time to warm to Magwitch.  He is horrified when the man first returns and doesn’t see him as a father figure until he is basically gone.

[He] turned his eyes on me with a trustful look, as if he were confident that I had seen some small redeeming touch in him, even so long ago as when I was a little child. (Ch. 56)

Pip does care about Magwitch, and it is clear that Magwitch has given everything he has for Pip, even though his motives were not completely altruistic.  Neither of them is entirely capable of a normal relationship.  Magwitch, like Miss Havisham, wants revenge.  He wants revenge on the system, proving that he can make any poor country boy into a gentleman.

By the end of his journey, Pip has grown.  However, he is still alone.  He never marries, and at the end of the book he seems to leave the impression that it is not likely he will.  Like Estella, he has been ruined for love.  When he looks back on his life, it is with some understanding but also with self-pity.  Even the narrator of the story does not have a mature adult’s emotional landscape.  However, we can certainly see how he got to be where he is.  He has been through a lot.

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