Pip's Progression in Charles Dicken's "Great Expectations"

Essay by scotch95High School, 11th gradeA+, March 2004

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To illustrate the themes of a novel authors will often have a character undergo several major changes throughout the story. In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens creates many intriguing and unforgettable characters, including the callous Miss Havisham, the sharp and crude lawyer, Mr. Jaggers, and the benevolent Abel Magwitch. However Great Expectations is the story of Pip and his dreams and consequential disappointments that him lead to become a genuinely decent man. The significant changes that Pip's character goes through portray the novel's many themes. Dickens uses Pip's descent from an inoffensive boy into a proud gentleman and his final redemption as a good-natured person to demonstrate that unrealistic hopes and expectations can lead to undesirable qualities.

The reader is first introduced to Pip in the marshes as he visits his "dead and buried" parents. Dickens draws the readers' sympathy toward the caring, innocent boy. Pip meets a convict--one that will have a huge impact on Pip's adult life.

Pip, while terrified, is obedient to the convict's every demand, answering him respectfully with "yes sir." Even though he helps the convict obtain food and nourishment, the reader still greatly sympathizes with Pip, for one can see how his little robbery affects his conscience. When Mrs. Joe leaves the Sunday dinner to bring out the "savoury pork pie", Pip is distressed by his actions (Jackson 174), his mind screams, "Must they! Let them not hope to taste it!" (Dickens 27). He seems to genuinely regret what he has done and the fact that he "had been too cowardly to avoid doing what [he] knew to be wrong" (Dickens 40).

Several years have passed and Pip remains an innocent, caring boy. One night, when Pip and Joe are alone at the forge, they talk about Mrs. Joe. Afterward, Pip realizes...