- For Teachers
You have probably read Dickens' greatest book, GE! It is good, but English is the only class I don't have a 4.0 in. Your help will be very appreciated as I myself do not know how to revise this. Your input is very important to me and definitely will be put into consideration. Thanks so much, a little can go a long way
The transformation of the protagonist, Pip from an uneducated, lower class child to a maturing, educated ‘gentleman’ is the backbone of the novel, Great Expectations. Many characters contribute to Pip’s transformation, such as Miss Havisham, Magwitch, and Estella, and all contain a desire for improvement. In this way, the most important theme in Great Expectations is the desire for improvement especially in one’s choices, one’s education, and one’s rank in society.
Many choices the characters make are wrong and have a negative effect on their lives. Several characters make bad decisions and strive for improvement and better understanding. Towards the beginning of the book, Pip ventures off into the marshes around the forge. When he encounters the first convict who turns out to be Magwitch, he is asked to bring back some ‘wittles’ or food and a file to break free from the chains. He tells Pip that If he were to disobey his orders, a man would sneak in to his house and eat his heart. Pip, who by now has an understanding of what is moral, goes out and takes Joe’s file and Mrs. Joe’s cake instead of telling them about him. This shows his low levels of trust in his guardians because he cannot tell them anything. Another example of wrong choices being made is Miss Havisham’s decision to raise Estella with views that all men are evil. This prevents Estella from finding real love and having feelings for someone. Miss Havisham regrets raising Estella like this but, unfortunately, it is too late for her to correct her choices because Estella is all grown up. Estella also regrets her choice of listening to what Miss Havisham had told her. Not only did the characters want to improve their choices, but many also wanted a better education.
From the beginning of the novel, the level of one’s education has made barriers and prevented healthy relationships with people. This has led characters like Pip to go out of their comfort zones to gain knowledge in order to become accepted. “He calls the knaves jacks, this boy!”… is what Pip heard from Estella after playing cards with her. This causes Pip to notice differences between the educated and uneducated. Pip becomes mad at Joe for not teaching him the real names. This is the origin of Pip’s duty to become more educated. He wants to be like the educated so that he does not feel like an ashamed, “stupid, and clumsy boy”. In addition, this begins Pip’s interest for Estella because she is pretty and smart and he thinks he has to be smart to impress her. Much later, when Estella realizes Miss Havisham has raised her to show no love, she longs for the knowledge of what true love is and how to find it. Estella becomes mad and refuses to listen to Miss Havisham which make the old lady mad. Miss Havisham later indirectly forgives Estella before her death when she commands Pip to “Take the pencil and write under my name, ‘I forgive her.’ ”. Improving one’s education is one thing, and it is closely linked to one’s social status.
Social classes have been the main barrier in the character’s lives. This very barrier has been the motivation of lower-class characters, such as Pip and Mrs. Joe, to advance and improve rank in society. Estella is Pip’s motivation for rising up. He thinks that he has to be a person with status and education in order to be loved by her. Pip does not yet understand that she cannot love him. In addition, the benefactor of Pip, Magwitch, was not brought up well. This is shown when his ex-partner, Compeyson is sentenced to seven years in prison, and Magwitch twice that. Compeyson is very eloquent and blames everything on Magwitch. Magwitch is not dressed well and has the appearance of a poor man. The judge in turn favors Compeyson. While in prison, Magwitch escapes and when he is found, he gets a life sentence. He is to be deported to New South Wales, Australia. Magwitch takes advantage of this and does his best to make money. He shows signs that he no longer wants to be a criminal, but instead a wealthy nobleman. He gains respect in Australia and makes a good fortune. Magwitch remembers Pip as a helper and begins sending him his fortune through Jaggers, his old lawyer. Pip later finds out about this and sees not the convict in him, but his strong inner-worth. Another character that wants to advance in society is Pip’s sister, Miss Joe Gargery. She hates the fact that she is a wife of a blacksmith. She wants to be better than what she is but has no chance of doing that. She often complains and repeats that she “brought Pip up by hand”.
One’s choices, one’s education, and one’s rank in society are expressed in the most important theme of Great Expectations, which is the desire for improvement. When Estella is deprived of many possessions, and Pip’s source of money is destroyed, she acts nicely to Pip because there are fewer differences between them now. In the end, Pip realizes that social class and levels of education are less important than a person’s goodness.
Thanks a lot!!!