How are the changes in Pip's values by the end of Chapter XXX different from those early in the narrative?Great Expectations  by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Once content to sit in the warmth of Joe Gargery's arms and the glowing fire at the forge, Pip's visit to Miss Havisham's in which he is told that his hands and boots are coarse and he is a "common laboring boy" changes his perspective about his life. After this encounter with the haughty Estella, Pip's longing for wealth and position tortures him with shame for his present position:

It is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home....Within a single year all this was changed.  Now, it was all coarse and common, and I would not have had Miss Havisham and Estella see it on any account.

Dissatisfied with his home, his apprenticeship, his life, Pip is elated when he learns that he will receive money from a secret benefactor whom he assumes is Miss Havisham.  Word of his "great expectations" comes to him one dark evening, and Pip's life is changed unalterably:

  • He is measured for new clothes and he worries about what Trabb's boy thinks of him.
  • Pip refuses Biddy's and Joe's offers to accompany him to the stage that is bound for London.
  • He is embarrassed by Joe's visit to London for dinner because he does not know the "proper" way to dine and conduct himself.

If I could have kept him away by paying money, I certainly would have paid money....I had little objection to his being seen by Herbert or his father, for both of whom I had a respect; but I had the sharpest sensitiveness as to his being seen by Drummle, whom I held in contempt. So, throughout life, our worst weaknesses and meannesses are usually committed for the sake of the people whom we most despise.

  • After Joe leaves quietly with only a note left behind, Pip reads his message and is ashamed of having treated this man "with a simple dignity" as though he were someone to be ashamed of, Pip chides himself for allowing appearances to be more important than love. So, Pip resolves to visit Joe at the forge.
  • Planning his trip, the snobish Pip considers bringing his manservant for appearances,

It was tempting to think of that expensive Mercenary publicly airing his boots in the archway of the Blue Boar's posting-yard: it was almost solemn to imagine him casually produced in the tailor's shop and confounding the disrespectful senses of Trabb's boy.

        Pip decides to leave the Avenger behind as something may go wrong.

  • When Pip goes to Satis House again rather than to the forge, he pretentiously approaches it as the romantic hero

to restore the desolate house, admit the sunshine into the dark rooms, set the clocks a-going … do all the shining deeds of the young knight of romance, and marry the princess.

  • Although Pip feels guilty for not visiting Joe as intended and sends hims a gift of codfish and oysters, his gift is also pretentious and showy and insincere.

Still my position was a distinguished one, and I was not at all dissatisfied with it, until Fate threw me in the way of that unlimited miscreant, Trabb's boy.

  • When Trabb's boy mocks him, saying, "Don't know yah....Upon my soul, don't know yah," Pip is insulted as the townspeople laugh.  He later writes snobbishly to Mr. Trabb

to say that Mr. Pip must decline to deal further with one who could so far forget what he owed to the best interests of society, as to employ a boy who excited Loathing in every respectable mind.

Clearly, by the end of Chapter XXX, Pip is supercilious.  He is insincere in his intentions and has subjugated his love for Joe to his desires to be a gentleman, one respectable in society. 

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Great Expectations

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