Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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What are some specific ways Pip grows up in Great Expectations?

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Pip grows up because he learns what true love and loyalty are, and the real meaning of a gentleman.

Pip is manipulated early on in the story by Magwitch and Miss Havisham.  He is a vulnerable boy, a victim of ongoing abuse by his sister and the last survivor of his family.  He is putty in the hands of his benefactors.  They use him for their own ends.

Miss Havisham has the biggest effect on Pip’s life.  He is just a plaything for her, a toy that she can dangle in front of Estella to teach the girl the art of breaking boys’ hearts.  Estella does a masterful job.  Pip meets her as a child, and still falls irreparably in love.  Miss Havisham prevents him from having a normal life. 

Estella warns Pip not to pine for her.

 `Moths, and all sorts of ugly creatures,' replied Estella, with a glance towards him, `hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle help it?'

  `No ' I returned; `but cannot the Estella help it?'

  `Well!' said she, laughing, after a moment, `perhaps. Yes. Anything you like.' (Ch. 38)

From the experience with Miss Havisham and Estella, Pip learns that love has to be reciprocated.  You can’t force it on someone.  If a person does not return your affections, there is nothing you can do.  It is a hard lesson, and he doesn’t learn it until he has lost everything.

Pip gave up everything in his quest for Estella. He turned his back on Joe.  He felt that his home was something to be ashamed of, and he wanted to leave and never look back.  After he lost everything, he realized that the way he had treated Joe was wrong.  Family and loyalty are more valuable than money.                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Magwitch is not a completely benevolent soul.  He chose Pip to receive his fortune because he wanted to prove that gentlemen could be made, not born.  It was his own little class warfare.  He felt betrayed by society, because people believed Compeyson and not him. Compeyson had the looks of a gentleman, he did not.

When Pip finds out the truth about Magwitch, he is horrified.  Pip is vain and naïve.  He took the money without asking questions, and he lived his life based on the assumption that it was Miss Havisham who was elevating him.  When he found out that his money came from Magwitch, he felt like an imposter and a fraud.  He was now in the company of a criminal.

All this time I had never been able to consider my own situation, nor could I do so yet. I had not the power to attend to it. I was greatly dejected and distressed, but in an incoherent wholesale sort of way. (Ch. 40)

However, Pip came to appreciate and care about Magwitch.  He worked hard to hide him and protect him, and risked his life and liberty to get him out of the country.  When Magwitch died, Pip was right by his side.  He made sure that Magwitch went to his grave content.

From this experience, Pip learns the true meaning of being a gentleman.  It is not just about having money.  A gentleman is a gentleman in actions and intentions too.  Pip becomes a true gentleman after he loses his money.  He stops caring what other people think, and begins to live an honorable life.

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