Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Pip's character development in Great Expectations


Pip's character development in Great Expectations is marked by his journey from innocence and naivety to self-awareness and maturity. Initially, he is ashamed of his origins and yearns for social advancement. Through various trials and moral struggles, including his relationships with characters like Joe and Magwitch, Pip ultimately learns the value of loyalty, humility, and true gentility.

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In Great Expectations, how does Pip's character evolve from the early chapters to when he leaves for London?

In the first few chapters, Pip is an innocent child, but he is conflicted when he leaves for London. He is extremely happy that he's going to be given the chance to become a gentleman, but he also feels guilty for leaving Joe at the forge. Pip also knows the significance of money in a person's life. A person who is wealthy is treated better than a poor person. Pip has seen this in Mr. Trabb and Mr. Pumblechook. All of this leads Pip to accept the false values of the rich when he gets to London, replacing the spiritual values he's been raised with.

Pip also has his first argument with Biddy when he asks her to improve Joe. Pip sees himself as superior to Joe and Biddy because he's going to London to become a gentleman. When Biddy refuses, Pip accuses her of being jealous, but he doesn't realize that Biddy already knows that money and social standing don't necessarily make a person good or happy. Pip assumes that Joe and Biddy want to be rich and to have the opportunities that Pip is going to have in London. At this point, Pip believes nothing is more important than having money to buy the things he wants and being a member of the upper class.

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In Great Expectations, how has Pip's behavior developed so far?

As said in the other answer, it is uncertain what point in the story is being specified. That being said, Pip's personality goes through several distinct stages as he grows into maturity.

As a child he is a kind, open-hearted boy with no expectations beyond becoming a village blacksmith like his brother-in-law Joe. He is humble and unassuming.

When he finds out he has "great expectations" and is provided the money to become a gentleman by a secret benefactor, his personality changes. He becomes a snob and becomes ashamed of Joe. For example, he sends a gift rather than going to visit his kind-hearted brother-in-law when he is in the village. Pip also lives lavishly to keep up appearances, and although he has a good deal of money, gets into debt. His snobbery becomes apparent as well at his horror that Magwitch, the former convict, is his benefactor.

After his stage of snobbery, Pip is humbled. He learns to appreciate and even love the dying Magwitch, and he is deeply moved when Joe, who lives so simply, pays his debts. Pip apologizes to Joe for his bad behavior. Pip has come to realize the true worth in a person doesn't reside in external appearances but in a person's heart.

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In Great Expectations, how has Pip's behavior developed so far?

If you want this question answered, you really have to specify what point in the story you are talking about.  In general, I will assume you are talking about the point where Pip is in London, because that is a natural place for this question.

Pip takes to being a gentleman well, in some respects.  He learns manners and how to get along in the right social circles.  He learns that not all wealthy people are happy.  Happiness turns out to be more elusive than he thought.  So is Estella.  Since his goal is to marry her, he intends to be a part of her circle.  She continues to tease him, but he gets nowhere with her and instead she takes up with Drummle.  Dummle is by far the most dispicable of the dispicable "gentlemen" in training that Pip meets.  Even the normally close Jaggers refers to him as Spider.

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