What are some examples of the themes "wealth is corrupting" and " goodness comes from self, not money" in Great Expectations?

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wealth is corrupting:

  • Compeyson's motivation to frame Magwitch came from the idea that he did not want to endure the punishment for the crime he committed. Compeyon and Magwitch conspired in a money laundering scheme. Upon completion of the scheme, Compeyson insisted that they get separate lawyers. During the trials, Compeyson testified against Magwitch thereby framing him. Compeyson appeared to be a good-well-to-do wealthy man, and therefore got away with the crime. Magwitch was made to appear like he needed the money and therefore had motivation. Provis, or Magwitch tells this story in chapter 42.
  • Miss Havisham was hurt in her life. But that doesn't mean that she needed to take it out on other people. Because of her wealth, she manipulated and motivated the unfeeling nature of her daughter. She used other people. She taught her daughter to have no feelings for men, and this resulted in the treatment of Pip from the time he was a child until he was a grown man. She got Pip to her home by being the wealthy woman of the town.

Goodness comes from self, not money: Joe Gargery exemplifies this concept throughout the story in a variety of ways.

  • First, Joe befriends Pip and keeps his loyalty when Pip hides his bread and butter. He always encourages Pip to do the right thing, although he does not ever "tell" on Pip to Mrs. Joe.
  • Second, even though Pip is motivated by wealth and class and the potential of high society, Joe receives a happy life due to the fact that he worked hard and treated people right. Although Mrs. Joe died, Joe endures, and later earned the companionship and love of Biddy. He continued work in his humble trade and enjoyed the life he had within his working class.
  • Third, when Pip needed great care, Joe was able to be the attendant at Pip's sick bed. Although Pip had turned his back on Joe by not staying at the forge and learning Joe's trade, Joe remained ever the best of friends to Pip.


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Great Expectations

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