Pip reaches London in chapter 20 of Great Expectations after much eager anticipation. His departure is a great event—not only for him but also for Joe and Biddy and various members of the community. Mr. Trabb the tailor treats Pip with a new and fulsome deference, while Pip himself announces, "henceforth I was for London and greatness; not for smith’s work."
Pip's first impression of London, therefore, is a bitter disappointment. He immediately remarks that this is not how one would expect the greatest city of a mighty empire to look:
We Britons had at that time particularly settled that it was treasonable to doubt our having and our being the best of everything: otherwise, while I was scared by the immensity of London, I think I might have had some faint doubts whether it was not rather ugly, crooked, narrow, and dirty.
Pip is a country boy. When imagining London, he has always focused on its size and magnificence, expecting to step out of his stagecoach into a gleaming alabaster city,...
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