In what ways does Pip's contact with Estella change his attitudes toward education, Joe, and being a blacksmith in Great Expectations?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Like all children who are in a closed environment, Pip is accepting of his situation. And, although he knows he has been orphaned, he does not feel very deprived in other ways since he has the love of good-hearted Joe, decent meals, and some normalcy in a life of routine. 

However, after having been taken by Uncle Pumblechook to play at Satis House, the decrepit mansion of the eccentric Miss Havisham, and after having met the beautiful, but haughty girl named Estella, Pip's complacency is shaken.  This meeting and day have been "memorable,...for it made great changes...."  Pip narrates,

When I got up to my little room and said my prayer, my young mind was in that disturbed and unthankful state that I thought long after I laid me down, how common Estella would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith, how thick his boots, and coarse his hands.  I thought how Joe and my sister were then sitting in the kitchen, and how I had come up to bed from the kitchen, and how Miss Havisham and Estella never sat in a kitchen, but were far above the level of such common doings.  I fell asleep recalling what I "used to do" when I was at Miss Havisham's; as though I had been there weeks or months, instead of hours.

Before his visit to Satis House, which ironically means "Satisfied," Pip has been content; now he is dissatified with his home, his friend Joe, and himself:  he feels "common" [ In British this word means very low class; inferior]. Thenceforth, Pip earnestly strives to become less common and win the love of Estella, the star who is out of his reach, and whom he perceives as superior.  Of Joe, now, he is ashamed; Pip rejects him, valuing social position and education as superior to the love of the illiterate and clumsy Joe.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the entirety of this story, Pip's purpose to achieve his great expectations center on his hope to have Estella. He in fact believes that he is destined to have her and that Havisham may be his benefactor preparing him for Estella.

Because he believes he is being prepared for the upper class of society to match Estella, he no longer desires to just read letters (like he does as a young boy early in the book with Joe), but furthermore to learn Latin, etiquette, and other high class activity. He grows ashamed of Joe and being a blacksmith. That trade is for those in a lower class. Dickens further illustrates Pip's growing contempt for Joe and the trade by painting the picture of Joe's lack of intelligence and cash throughout his life and environment.

Every contact with Estella makes him aspire to achieve a higher class ranking in society. Everything he seeks in terms of educating himself and grooming himself are for purposes of improving himself for her.


randomthoughts11 | Student

Pip wants to impress Estella and the only way he thinks he can impress her is by becoming a gentleman. Pip goes to London and learns other languages such as Latin. He feels ashamed of Joe because he can't read and write correctly. Pip no longer wishes to become a blacksmith since that is considered to be from lower social classes.

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Great Expectations

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