Great Expectations Have you ever wondered how wealth can bring happiness and how it can change a person which poses the question, can it turn that person who was once poor into a better person? The plot of Great Expectations revolves around Pip as a young boy and his chance encounter on the Kent marshes with an escaped convict, Magwitch. It follows Pip's journey through to adulthood and gives insight into the attitudes about the social conditions and snobbery at the time when Dickens was writing and what his views of them were. It is a compelling novel of guilt, desire, ambition, greed and reconciliation and finally realising the true value of money, friendship and love. When Pip and Magwitch first meet, their relationship appears to be based solely on power and fear. Upon seeing the convict Pip describes him as 'a fearful man' and during their short conversation, Pip sits 'trembling' - showing his fear.
The man threatens the boy so that he can get what he wants and Pip seemingly obliges only to save his life. The convict manhandles him and repeatedly threatens him. However, when they split up Pip keeps his gaze on him and the reader gets the impression that they are strikingly similar - the image of the man 'still hugging himself in both arms' alone on the horizon, and also lonely - not that different to the young boy Pip, who just minutes before he'd met the convict had been sat alone, looking longingly at his relatives gravestones. They share a common loneliness and both seem somewhat removed from society. Pip comes across as a sympathetic, kind boy. His home life was rather unsettled as a young boy but his older sister Mrs Joe and her husband Joe take him in and become his guardians.
Pip finds solace from his sister's rages in Joe and their relationship is more that of dear friends than surrogate father and son. Pip is reasonably happy with his life, as he knows no different and is unable to compare his situation... until he is called upon to visit Miss Havisham. One day, Mr. Jagger's, a lawyer, reveals to Pip, that there are "Great Expectations" for Pip. He is given the money to become a gentleman and receive a good education; he assumes, without questioning that his benefactor is Miss Havisham. In London, Pip makes many new, high-society friends.
After spending a while living there, Pip is happily settled in, still longing for Estella but enjoying spending time with his good friend Herbert, until his emotions are thrown into turmoil when his benefactor appears before him. The atmosphere of the day when they meet seems fitting, the 'wretched weather' -soon to match Pip's disgust, almost as if the 'vast heavy veil' of terrible weather had dragged Magwitch with it, right to Pip's door. Pip surveyed his visitor with a slight air of distaste, he didn't like the man being overly friendly when he was still unsure as to who he was and what business they had together. On second glances Pip finally realises who the strange man is but feels that he isn't under any obligation to him and simply tells him in no uncertain terms 'That I cannot wish to renew that chance intercourse with you of long ago, under these different circumstances. ' Pip then makes it blatantly obvious that he doesn't want Magwitch in his house. This affects the man and Pip tries to smooth things over and makes polite conversation.
Pip remembers about the lb 2 that he was given as a child and he tries to pay him off by giving him two clean pound notes, but straightaway Magwitch burns them because he is offended that Pip is trying to get rid of him in this way. This is ironic as Pip doesn't realize that he is trying to pay off Magwitch, with Magwitch's own money. However, when their conversing turns to how Pip became a gentleman, and the shocking truth comes out, Pip is repulsed. His snobbery is very obvious because, instead of gratitude, his attitude is one of total horror and disgust: 'The abhorrence in which I held the man, the dread I had of him, the repugnance with which I shrank from him, could not have been exceeded if he had been some terrible beast'. Pip's emotions are very unstable; he is feeling disappointed, angry and very ashamed - he doesn't want to be associated with a poor convict but realises with dread that Magwitch made him who he is, and that he owes him everything. The fact that Magwitch is from a lower class and a common criminal is far more important in Pip's eyes than the fact that Magwitch is a reformed character, now that he's good, honest and genuine.
Pip is very hypocritical as he judges Magwitch by his class rather than how he is as a person. The disappointment is due to the false belief that his benefactor was Miss Havisham and him becoming a gentleman was all part of a plan to groom him for Estella, when really it was nothing of the sort. He seems angry with Miss Havisham, which is unfair as she never told him that she was his benefactor, Pip just assumed it. He also becomes aware that he has been neglecting Joe in preference for 'expectations' that have been paid for by a convict. Despite his reformed attitude to Joe and Biddy, therefore, it is obvious that Pip is still very much a snob because he does not want his wealthy friends to learn of his low class benefactor. When he had gone back for his sister's funeral in chapter 35, Pip showed a little remorse about his previous snobbishness and showing them that, even though he has become a gentleman, he has not abandoned his roots and still values their friendship.
It also indicates that for the first time Pip is beginning to see through outside or superficial appearances to the fine man beneath. However, we learn, though, that he hasn't changed much as he is ashamed when he hears about his benefactor - he's angry and snobbish, as to him its only about where his money came from, he can't cope with having "poor" money - its undermined his whole idea of his wealth. Pip displayed a haughty attitude up until the point when he discovered that Magwitch was his benefactor, not Miss Havisham. This single event seems to shatter Pip's ever-growing ego and turn him into the true gentleman he wants to be. Magwitch talks about his gratitude for Pip when he helped him as a convict many years ago. "You acted noble, my boy", said he.
"Noble Pip! And I have never forgot it!" . He shows why he is a hero when he explains to Pip that he was the benefactor and the one responsible for making him a gentleman and helping him achieve his great expectations. "Yes, Pip, dear boy, I've made a gentleman on you! It's me wot done it!" . This point of change was made only after spending time with Magwitch and realizing how much he was grateful to him and how much Magwitch loved him.
Pip stayed true to the end with Magwitch and never abandoned him as shown when Pip states, 'I will never stir from your side... when I am suffered to be near you. Please God, I will be as true to you as you have been to me. ' This goes to prove that people can change, but only after they experience love. Pip's unconditional love for Magwitch was definite because he had nothing to gain from him.
After his death, however, Pip feels guilt and sadness when he learns what Magwitch spent most of his life trying do. Only now does Pip realize how much he has missed in life and how sorry he is for missing it. His apology to Joe and Biddy shows that they are forgiving characters and that Pip is now one of them. Pip's acting out of the goodness of his heart demonstrates that deep down inside, he just wants to do the right thing, and mistakenly believed that money would do that. Dickens seems to be suggesting that there were very clear dividisions between the rich and the poor, and snobbery was very common in the upper classes. Wealth and class are clearly very important to Pip - which is unnecessary and heartless - which is why he deserts Joe and Biddy.
However, being wealthy, Pip had thought that it would bring him closer to the girl he loved, Estella. But it didn't. In return, he had more problems personally then before to face and wasn't enjoying his wealthy life. Wealth brought him to the path of broken love, much like it did with Miss Havisham as her fianc'e who we meet later in the book, Compeyson, was just going to marry her based on her riches not on love. I have to admit that I have no sympathy for Pip, as he shouldn't rate people on their class without getting to know them first.
He just assumed that the money was from Miss Havisham and that he was being groomed for Estella, as soon as he came into the money, he immediately left his old life behind. Pip does change immensely during the course of his life, it is quite remarkable how such a kind young country boy can turn into an arrogant pitiful gentleman, and finally ending up in love, happy yet not particularly wealthy.