Great Expectations

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 10th grade September 2001

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In Pip's life, he learns lessons from almost everyone he meets along his journey of becoming "uncommon." In short, Pip learns to appreciate people for who they are, not shun them for who they aren't. The beginning of the book is when we begin to see how bitter Pip is about his life as a common boy. Pip is raised by his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, and her husband, Joe. Both works very hard to support the family and to raise Pip, yet Pip still has a desire to improve his life. Joe is one of the few people Pip knows that he can trust. ("Joe and I being fellow-sufferers, and having confidences as such, Joe imparted a confidence to me the moment I raised the latch of the door and peeped in at him opposite to it, sitting in the chimney-corner." Pg. 7.) Once Pip meets Estella, he immediately falls for her, but because Estella is so cruel to him, Pip assumes it is because he is of a lower class than Estella is.

("And then I told Joe that I felt very miserable, and that I hadn't been able to explain myself to Mrs. Joe and Pumblechook, who were so rude to me, and that there had been a beautiful young lady at Miss Havisham's who was dreadfully proud, and that she had said I was common, and that I knew I was common, and that I wished I was not common, and that the lies had come of it somehow, though I didn't know how." Pg. 68-69.) When talking to Estella, he immediately believes that in order to get anywhere in the world, and in essence in order to receive love, you must be either filthy rich, a gentleman, or all of the above.

Pip is eventually given money to become a gentleman and receive a good education. In his learning period, he makes many high society friends. When his old friends and family come to visit him, he is ashamed because they are, according to him, lower in stature than he is. After a long period of time, Pip returns to Estella's old home, where he finds that her husband is dead. Estella asks that Pip would forgive her, but he realizes that he would be a fool not to forgive her as he has been forgiven so many times by all the people in his life that he had hurt by acting like he could not be associated with them anymore because of his gentlemanly stature. ("And now, though I know you have already done it in your own kind hearts, pray tell me, both, that you forgive me! Pray let me hear you say the words, that I may carry the sound of them away with me, and then I shall be able to believe that you can trust me, and think better of me, in the time to come!" Pg. 484) The main lesson that Pip learns in Great Expectations is that no matter if you are rich or poor, common or uncommon, you must learn to appreciate people for who they really are. He goes through a series of changes with the different people he meets along his journey of education and becoming a "gentleman." Basically his mission is to impress whomever he can in order to fulfill his dreams, and in summary, to impress Estella. Perhaps Estella had the same exact problem that Pip had; she could not get past who a person really was on the inside, without scrutinizing them for who they could be.