This essay takes an in depth look at Pip, the major character in the world famous novel, Great Expectations, written in 1861 by the British author, Charles Dickens. Pip is one of the most loved characters ever written about in English literature, and his story is regularly shown in movies and stage plays under the same title as the book. The novel’s plot is set around the things that Pip does from his childhood innocence, right through to his life as an experienced man.
Philip Pirrip, otherwise known as Pip, an abbreviation that came about as the infantile Pip could not pronounce such a name, is both the narrator and main character in this novel which focuses on his psychological and moral development. Great Expectations opens up in the first past of the 1800s where Pip is a seven year old physically small and weak, immature orphan with neck length brown wavy hair. He as a good conscience and an unusually romantic idea of life. He lives in Kent, England, near the famous marches, and is being brought up by Mrs. Joe, his sister, who is over twenty years his senior, and very unkind as she regularly beats him; and a blacksmith, Joe Gargery, who is married to her. Joe is kind to Pip, and is his best friend, but Pip has a very low self-esteem. He feels that he is not valued and is intimidated because Mrs. Joe is always telling him that he is the cause of her suffering, installing in him the need for wealth. So Pip, who never got to see his parents or his five elder brothers who also died, has some happiness amid the trauma. Although his path appears set to take on the job as a blacksmith through training by Joe, an unexpected turn of events take his destiny up a very different road.
As he grows into an adolescent, Pip’s personality and views on life go through many twists and turns due to the people he encounters and how they affect him. In the beginning, Pip is extremely kind, and his low class does not matter to him at all. As time progresses, however, this changes due to a aristocratic lady named Miss Havisham, and an unexpected meeting with her beautiful adopted high society daughter by the name of Estella. As a result of his feelings for her, he yearns to improve himself and has avaricious desires in the realms of money, education and society, as he is ashamed of his low class, uneducated and economically poor family.
Events in Pip’s life take a rapidly new course of direction when an unknown benefactor leaves him a large fortune. On hearing the news, he seizes the chance to become an educated gentleman, and travels to London with great expectations, believing that Miss Havisham was the one that bestowed good fortune upon him to make him suitable for Estella, and he fantasizes that they will marry. As he feels ashamed of his sister and Joe, he gets a lawyer he is studying with to become his guardian instead. He demonstrates harshness towards Joe who was kind to him, and yet does not lose all his sensibilities, as he shows kindness to his new friend Herbert.
Now a good looking tall gentleman, Pip suddenly learns that the unknown benefactor was not Miss Havasham; it was an uneducated prisoner named Abel Magwitch, who had escaped jail that he had helped on the Moors back when he was a boy. He had removed his shackles with Joe’s tools and given food to him. Because of this much needed assistance, Abel wanted to help him. But Pip is in turmoil, as he realizes it is not a plan for him to marry Estella. Pip’s inner kindness surfaces, and he feels that he should help Abel. But Abel soon dies, and the British Crown take away his fortune, leaving Pip destitute. Now, at aged 23, Pip realizes that a good allowance, being well spoken and lavishly dressed, does not make a man a gentleman.
In summary, Pip’s social and financial rise changes his morals and emotions for the worse, which ultimately makes him face his negative expectations through self enlightenment.