What impression do Drummle and Startop make upon Pip in Great Expectations?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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After Pip reaches London in order to fulfill his "great expectations," he is schooled by Herbert's father, Matthew Pocket.  In Chapter XXV, Pip narrates that he is a "sulky fellow" who took up a book "as though it had done him an injury."  He is described by Pip as "idle, proud, niggardly, reserved, and suspicious." A rich young man who has been allowed to satisfy his selfish desires, Pip calls him "a blockhead."  Another fellow who has been spoiled is Startop, though he is weaker than the brute Drummle.  Yet, Pip makes friends with him, rowing alongside Startop's boat talking to him as they return home from their excursions on the Thames.

When he attends dinner at the home of Mr. Jaggers, Pip notices that Jaggers is impressed in some way with Drummle, but ignores the more delicate Startop.  After Drummle brags of his physical prowess over Pip and Startop, Jaggers makes a toast to him: "Mr. Drummle I drink to you." As the evening progresses, Pip notes that he follows Drummle with interest although this object of Jaggers's attention becomes even more surly and even tries to fling a glass at the other young mens' heads, but Jaggers catches his hand.  As Pip and the other guests depart from the house of Jaggers. Drummle lags behind in the shadows.

Later, of course, Pip finds Drummle more than just a foe as he becomes a rival for the attentions of Estella despite his brutish conduct.  For instance, in Chapter XLIII, Pip once encounters Drummle at the Blue Boar inn where the surly fellow ridicules Pip's environment:

"Large tract of marshes about her....I mean to explore those marshes for amusement."

"Mr. Drummle, I did not seek this conversation, and I don't think it's an agreeable one."

Then, in Chapter XLIV, Pip goes to Satis House to confront Miss Havisham in her deception about not being his benefactor. While he is there, Pip declares his undying love for Estella, but is told that she is engaged to be married to Bentley Drummle. She asks Pip why he mentions Miss Havisham when the marriage is her own act.

"Your own act, Estella, to fling yourself away upon a brute?...Oh, Estella!...how could I see you Drummle's wife?"

Crushed by this knowledge, Pip still tells her that she is a part of his very existence, but it is to no avail as Estella marries the brute and is abused by him in her marriage.

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