Pip’s Coming Of Age Journey In The Great Expectations By Charles Dickens
Jose de las Luz y Caballero once said “As the fruit ripens, so does the man mature, after many rains, suns and blows.” Throughout the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the protagonist Philip Pirrip also known as Pip, undergoes many changes from when he is 6 years old living with his older sister, Mrs. Joe to when he is 23 living in the city of London as a wealthy gentleman receiving money from an unknown benefactor. His diverse views on people, ideas and places change substantially due to a multitude of factors that affect his everyday life. Hence, Dickens creates Pip’s life as a coming of age journey using themes to go along with his growth and learning. These three themes are social status, guilt, and friendship.
In the first place, the theme of social status is recurring in the main characters plot. While growing up and learning what effect money has on people, Pip realizes that social status and wealth are not as important as love, generosity and inner worth. In chapter 34, Pip realizes he would have had a better life without coming into money. “I used to think, with a weariness on my spirits, that I should have been happier and better if I had never seen Miss Havisham’s face, and had risen to manhood content to be partners with Joe in the honest old forge”. With his wealth, spending came easy and Pip and Herbert amassed a lot of debt. With this, Pip feels he would have rather not received money from his benefactor in the first place. In addition, Pip learns the difference between the “great expectations” of the poor people versus the life of the higher class and learns how the rich treat the poor. Through the wealth he has accrued from his benefactor, Pip has achieved a higher social status and treats Joe and Biddy badly because he tries to distance himself from them. For this, he is remorseful.
Furthermore, Dickens uses guilt as one of the main themes in the novel which gives us an insight to Pip’s emotions and thoughts. From an early age, at the beginning of the novel, Pip is taught right versus wrong and experiences feelings of guilt. “A dread possessed me that when I least expected it, the file would reappear. I coaxed myself to sleep by thinking of Miss Havisham’s next Wednesday; and in my sleep I saw the file coming at me out of a door, without seeing who held it, and I screamed myself awake.” After stealing food and a file from Joe and giving them to a convict named Magwitch, the guilt of Pip’s actions would haunt his thoughts and dreams and he was afraid of what could happen if anyone were to find out. Since this incident, he learned to be more cautious in his life decisions. In addition, given that Joe has always been good to him, Pip had more pronounced feelings of guilt which translated to an adverse effect on his relationship with Joe.
Lastly, the theme of friendship is very predominant throughout the book as Pip is friends with Joe, Herbert, Wemmick and Magwitch, though most of them are fatherly figures. Joe, being his brother-in-law, is a genuine who is very affectionate man and has a kind heart. He consequently teaches Pip integrity and real love. In the beginning, Joe encourages Pip to be humble, honest, and true to himself; “…lies is lies. Howsever they come, they didn’t ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and work round to the same. Don’t you tell no more of them, Pip. That ain’t the way to get out of being common, old chap.”. This scolding from Joe happens after Pip confesses that he lied about what he did at Miss Havisham’s home, or the Satis House. Pip hates lying to Joe and, being true to himself, tells him that he does not want to be “common” anymore.
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