In Great Expectations, where does Pip go to get educated to become a gentleman?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Pip goes to Matthew Pocket in London to be educated to be a gentleman.

First of all, Pip cannot remain at the forge and be a gentleman.  He has to go to London!  There he will be tutored by none other than one of Miss Havisham’s relatives, Matthew Pocket.  You can see why Pip was thoroughly convinced with this that Miss Havisham was his benefactor and he was being raised up to marry Estella.  It does seem convincing.

Matthew Pocket has a sort of gentleman’s school.  It is not much of a school.  It is really just a group of young men who need to learn better manners.  First, Pip meets his roommate (and Matthew Pocket's son), Herbert Pocket.  He has met him before.  He is the pale young gentleman from Miss Havisham’s garden that insisted on fighting Pip when he was just a boy.  All grown up now, Herbert is supposed to be a gentleman, but has no more idea how to go about it than Pip, and a great deal less money.

The whole situation comes as somewhat of a shock to Pip, not to mention Mr. Pocket himself.  The household is a little chaotic.  Pip decides that the Pocket children are not growing up, but rather are “tumbling up” (Ch. 22).  Mr. Pocket, on the other hand, assures Pip that he is not “an alarming personage” (Ch. 23).  He has written books on family matters despite the fact that his children are raised by servants, and awkwardly.

Pip gets quite an education among Matthew Pocket's students, which seems to mostly include how to spend too much money.

These were the surroundings among which I settled down, and applied myself to my education. I soon contracted expensive habits, and began to spend an amount of money that within a few short months I should have thought almost fabulous; but through good and evil I stuck to my books. (Ch. 25)

Slowly but surely, Pip does shake off the country habits.  He learns how to use the knife and fork, row, and speak properly.  He dresses well, and buys more things than he needs.  All the while he collects debts that he has no idea how to pay, even though he has money, and drags Herbert Pocket down with him.  

The difference is that Pip has a ready supply of money that isn’t his, and Herbert does not.  Their method of dealing with the debts is to write them down and look at them every once in a while (without paying them).

Each of us would then refer to a confused heap of papers at his side, which had been thrown into drawers, worn into holes in pockets, half-burnt in lighting candles, stuck for weeks into the looking-glass, and otherwise damaged. The sound of our pens going refreshed us exceedingly, insomuch that I sometimes found it difficult to distinguish between this edifying business proceeding and actually paying the money. In point of meritorious character, the two things seemed about equal. (Ch. 34)

Pip eventually gets bailed out by Jaggers, of course, but Herbert’s spending equaling Pip’s is not a good idea because Herbert has no secret benefactor.  His only source of income would be getting a job, which is not going to happen if all he does is look about him.

The transformation from country boy to gentleman is not all a good one.  While Pip does become refined, he definitely becomes more snobbish.  Having money and a little education also does not prevent him from being clueless either.  If anything, Pip gets worse in this department, as he seems to be playing a part without really understanding it.

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Great Expectations

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