Living in a world where much about a person’s character is measured by wealth, it has become increasingly important to maintain a separation between material characteristics and intangible moral values. Pip, in Dickens’ Great Expectations, must learn from his series of disappointments and realize the importance of self-reliance over acceptance to social norms. Through his unwavering faith in wealthy “ideals,” such as Miss Havisham and Estella, Pip develops both emotionally and morally, learning that surface appearances never reveal the truth in a person’s heart.Pip, through spending time with Estella, quickly picks up the desire for social improvement through games, whether physical or emotional, and it is not until he realizes the difference between fantasy and reality that he truly understands the game of life. Just as Estella uses card games to torment Pip, telling him that he is “a common labouring boy” Pip unknowingly begins to see every human interaction as a competition (Volume I, Chapter 8). His physical fight with Herbert represents Pip’s gradual addiction to always winning, never stopping until others are defeated. Pip takes his early, innocent ambition to improve himself and, without even realizing it himself, turns it into a ruthless fight for revenge. Parkinson argues that he sees “the role of chance” influencing his life, forcing himself to submit to whatever life throws at him (Parkinson, 121). Soon, however, Pip becomes the one who forces others, including Joe and Biddy, to simply accept his desire to become an “uncommon” gentleman through his unfailing faith in the wealthy (Volume I, Chapter 8). The problem is not his “fairy-tale expectations,” but his admiration in the wrong people; though he looks up to Miss…
…ry tale-like ending to the novel.Overall, Pip transforms morally throughout the book by realizing the limitations to fortune, the truly transcendental nature of social class, and understanding the balance of self-interest and consideration essential to a good life. Some may argue that this is no longer relevant, as the world has come to transcend social class. However, the reality is that money is still a symbol of worthiness. It is not until wealth and nobility are separated that true progress can take place in the world.
Works CitedDickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Knopf, 1992. Print.Parkinson, Kristen L. “What Do You Play, Boy?; Card Games in Great Expectations.” Dickens Quarterly (2010): 119-37. Web.
Campbell, Jessica A. “Beauty and the Beast in Great Expectations.” Dickens Quarterly (2014): 32-40. Web.