In Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, a young poor orphan searches for an opportunity to improve his style of living but finds himself disappointed with the outcome. Once exposed to the elite social class, Pip develops a goal to become a gentleman. Pip ambitiously attempts to become a gentleman but fails to live up to his expectations. Perhaps Dickens intended to explore the idea of self- acceptance. Given Pip’s living conditions, his desire to improve himself is reasonable but it is unknown whether his motive is driven by envy or the want to help his family. Had Pip accepted his place in the world, would he had continued to live a happy life with his family and stay clear of the convicts that roam his town?
While having dreams and aspirations is fundamental knowledge, did Dickens write this novel to convey the message that dreams and aspirations can lead us down the wrong path? In Pip’s case, his desire to become a gentleman left him with no family, no love, and no source of happiness. I intend to center my argument on the effects of Pip’s decision. Pip states, “As I had grown accustomed to my expectations, I had insensibly begun to notice their effect upon myself and those around me” (323). As a result of differing values, Pip and Joe grew apart to the point of no communication. Pip first began his journey to become a gentleman with one thought in mind: Estella. Pip felt ashamed of his life, so he worked to become a better man for Estella. Although he attained the title gentleman, Estella chose to marry another man. As Pip ascended into a higher social class, he became a target for convicts in the area. Danger increased immensely, Pip’s aunt was attacked, then Pip was attacked, and convicts often used violence to steal food from him. So what exactly did Pip gain from his experience? Some may say Pip intended to rise in social status to help his family name, but his family was only left to suffer. Although becoming a gentleman entails higher education and unlimited spending money, Pip failed to realize the possible long-term effects of his decision.
In theory, we all strive to become the best person we are capable of. Does this allow us to seek positions in which are not natural? Pip was born into the lower class, he had a loving family and countless fun memories. Pip did not accept who he was and therefore paid the consequences. I hope my paper will answer of the question of where the line is drawn. How do we set our goals so we are able to reach them, and also thrive once our goals are met? Dickens possibly meant to portray the message that not all great things are worth having. Would Pip rather give up his life of happiness just to reach the status of a gentleman? As the title states, Great Expectations, Pip expected to instantly become a part of new society without any negative changes. Maybe Dickens meant to explore the idea that we subconsciously make decisions without looking ahead into the future.