Summary Of Pip's Great Expectations

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Joseph Gold explains that Pip’s first awareness of “the identity of things” in the graveyard on Christmas Eve is an outstanding English illustration “of the most ancient questions, ‘who am I?’ and ‘why am I here?’” (242). In Pip’s search for a meaningful identity, Dickens has incorporated the desire of all humanity to understand its existence and find a place in the world. Because Dickens allows Pip’s story to be narrated by an older, and wiser Pip, Gold states that Pip becomes the person he is as a result of telling his story, for in order to recount the history of his life, Pip is forced to come to terms with his past (244). Pip’s past does not make him who he is, but is a significantly influential factor. Acknowledging his past mistakes …show more content…
Hillis Miller writes that Pip “is characterized by desire rather than possession. His spiritual state is one of an expectation founded on a present consciousness of lack, of deprivation. In many fairy tales, the disadvantaged protagonist generally elicits sympathy from the reader due to the lack of parents, love, acceptance, or power in his life. Made to believe by his abusive society that he is an inherently worthless person, Pip would rather be defined by what he lacks than by what he has. Miller explains that as a result of his obsession with the haughty and wealthy Estella, Pip’s “essence is defined entirely by negations (he lacks the education, language, manners, and fine clothes of a gentleman…), but even a definition in terms of what he is not is better than no definition at all” (266). Yet when Magwitch appears and shatters the façade of gentlemanly education, language, and manners, Pip’s identity is re-formed as he is forced to come to terms with who he actually is and what he has become, not who he hopes to …show more content…
Robert Strange states, “Pip himself renounces his childhood by coming to accept the false social values of middle-class society” (116). Great Expectations contains tremendous irony in its critique of unrealistic and harmful social expectations. Dickens’ title seems deliberately ironic: it seems entirely appropriate that an upside-down fairy-turned-realistic tale should possess a paradoxical title that points to the social issue that the author is attempting to turn inside-out through critical analysis. Certainly, though, most of Dickens’ books involve happy expectations and end happily, and Great Expectations is a notable exception, for even if one accepts the second ending as involving a permanent union of Pip and Estella, both characters have been so scarred and broken throughout the course of the novel that one might seriously wonder if either will ever be truly happy in his or her

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