Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens and first published in 1861, just eleven years after the Great Exhibition in London where the best of England and her empire was shown off to the rest of the world. At this time Britain was undoubtedly the greatest and most powerful nation in the world. This is reflected at the start of Book two in the line: “We Britons had at this time particularly settles that it was treasonable to doubt our having and being the best of everything.” And when Dickens wrote this novel, it was to warn against the arrogance of wealth and power that Britain and it’s people had. This message is emphasised through characters like Pip and Pumblechook.
Before we can argue for or against the question, we need to decide what a gentleman is. There are two options to this in my opinion; in Victorian times people believed a gentleman was a man with wealth and lots of land, good clothes and power. This is the type of person Pip wishes to be. The more serious meaning is a good and kind man. Gentleman literally means a ‘gentle man’ a man who is generous and noble. For the essence of this essay I take gentleman to it’s true meaning, a good and honest man, but because this is set in the nineteenth century, I shall also include aspects which refer to wealth and property.
The main character Pip, short for Philip Pirrip has a name meaning ‘seed’ and it is through the book that this ‘seed’ tries to grow into a gentleman, thought the perfect environment is difficult to find. The bleak marshes of his home and the dusty grimy London he lives in are far from perfect and Pip has to learn this the hard way.
Pip wants to grow into a typical Victorian gentleman, though at the start of the book he is as far from a gentleman as it is possible to be. In the nineteenth century to be a gentleman you needed to have a title, wealth and property, as well as good connections. Pip has none of these. You also needed to dress smartly and although eventually Pip buys a suit, it is only on the outside that he looks the part, inside he is still wrong. The element you need that he does have, however, is kindness. In Book one we see him do a number of agreeable acts, to a convict and Miss Havisham.
The story starts in the local graveyard, where Pip sees his parent’s graves. Here he meets a convict who orders him to get food and a file for him, which Pip does – this is his first act of kindness that is recorded though the convict shakes him upside down to empty his pockets for food. In a few years it will be the convict who fills Pip’s pockets. We meet up with the convict again later and will play an even larger part in the future, though Pip doesn’t know this yet and sees him as a scary and frightening, though kind man.
At the start of the novel we also see Joe and Mrs Joe, Pip’s sister and her husband. Though these two are married they are very different and will help and hinder Pip in his ambitions respectively. Mrs Joe is cold and nasty and brings Pip up ‘by hand’. He says he is a ‘connubial missile’ for her to attack. Joe on the other hand is very kind to Pip, he loves him and cares for him and tries to shield him, though this is difficult as Ms Joe is a very strong character.
Mrs Joe is very bad company for Pip to keep, as are many other people in the town. We see this once the story has settled and it is Christmas. Mrs Joe invites a number of people round for Christmas dinner; Uncle Pumblechook and Wopsle being the two most important. Pumblechook is one of Joe’s friends and between him, Wopsle and Mrs Joe they make Pip feel bad. They say he is trouble and go at him a lot. Joe however, tries to make Pip feel better by giving Pip lots of gravy. Him and Pip are very close friends and it is Joe’s kind influence that help Pip’s acts of kindness.
Just as Mrs Joe notices that a very large pie she has has gone missing (because Pip gave it, along with the file to the convict) soldiers come to the door with handcuffs. Pip is frightened because he thinks they are for him as he gave food away. This shows how weak and vulnerable Pip is at the start, he’s been hurt a lot in his life and is very scared. However they just want them to be mended as they are catching the convict Pip helped. Wopsle, Joe and him go down to the marshes with the soldiers to see them being caught and there we see them again – Magwitch, the one Pip helped and Compeyson, another convict who betrayed Magwitch. To get Pip out of trouble, Magwitch admits to stealing the pie and file, and Joe, ever forgiving says that he wouldn’t want him to starve. Pip’s simple act of kindness and the convict’s deception to save Pip from punishment create a bond between the two characters on which the whole novel rests.
The story now skips a few years but in this first section we have seen a very good side to Pip, he has helped a convict (though mainly through fear) and has a good friendship with Joe. Despite other factors being harsh on him, he seems a very good and kind person. This is his main aspect of which a gentleman can grow from – kindness.
His second act of kindness occurs after his first visit to Satis House. Previously Pumblechook had suggested that Pip go there and meet Miss Havisham. His visits here are some of the most important parts of the novel. When he goes there he meets someone called Estella; a very beautiful girl who Pip instantly adores, carrying the candlestick. Throughout the novel, Estella will become Pip’s guiding light. Estella itself means star and Pip will work to get Estella’s love and he thinks becoming a gentleman will help. However when Pip plays cards with Estella, she mocks him about his clothes, his accent and his manner. These are all important elements for gentlemen. At one point he says: ‘I knew I was common, and I wished I was not common’ and this is the beginning of Pip’s snobbery and ingratitude. Although he is used by Miss Havisham, he keeps returning on alternate days to see her.
Miss Havisham is a very strange and poignant character. She wears an old wedding dress and the whole house is in ruins, on a table near her is a rotting wedding cake and all the clocks in the house have stopped. Miss Havisham herself is like a ghost, pale and skeleton-like flowing in white and the whole house seems to have been deserted for years.
The second act is when he returns from Satis House for the first time and is questioned about her by Pumblechook. Instead of telling the truth about her and her strange ways which would make her a laughing stock, he tells lies about her so that people don’t mock her.
Although it is at Satis House that Pip firsts wants to become a gentleman, it is also where Pip starts to become snobbish and begins to grow ashamed of his working-class surroundings and manner. He says: ‘I continued at heart to hate my trade and be ashamed of home. He has no gratitude towards Joe at all, who has looked after and been kind to him. It is Miss Havisham who pays for him to train as a blacksmith with Joe, though he feels that kind of work is beneath him.
It is also at Satis House that we first meet the Pockets – the family of Miss Havisham who are greedy and snobbish trying to pocket money from Miss Havisham as their name suggests. They come and visit her on her birthday every year, hoping it’ll be her death-day (the day she dies) so they can get her money. Another character we see is a man who smells of soap, though this is all said of him at the moment, he is very important in book two. He also meets a pale young gentleman, who challenges Pip to a fight, but Pip wins. Like the soap-man, this boy is also very important later on.
Years later Pip has not changed, he and Joe have been to Miss Havisham for Pip to be apprenticed as a blacksmith and Miss Havisham pays for his training. He grows up learning how to work with Joe and slowly become ashamed of who he is. He now wants to be a gentleman even more, to try and get Estella, and is ashamed of his surroundings. He doesn’t want to be a blacksmith as he feels this is beneath him and he begins to be embarrassed of Joe thinking he is working-class an not good enough. Working with Joe and Pip now, is a man called Orlick who Pip doesn’t really like, he fights with Joe and loses.
He hates Pip as well, thinking he is favoured by Joe. A while later Mrs Joe is struck on the head with a hammer and no-one knows who’s done it. She can hardly speak, loses feeling and memory and is almost a vegetable. A young girl called Biddy, who taught Pip how to read and write many years ago, comes into the house to look after Mrs Joe. She’s a very nice and kind girl and like Joe, looks after Pip yet they fail to pass their influence on and Pip is embarrassed by them both. Pip talks to Biddy and tells her how he feels and his expectations. Biddy is angry at Pip’s ingratitude and embarrassment of Joe. She replies by saying: “A gentleman is never unjust”, but it will take Pip a long time to learn this. He thinks Biddy is showing a bad side of human nature, yet it is Pip who is doing this.
The next part of the tale is very important. Pip, Joe and Jaggers, a lawyer (who is the soap-man Pip met earlier) talk and Jaggers tells Pip he will have ‘great expectations’ He says he leaves for London in one week to be trained as a gentleman. However, there are two things Pip must do, he must not know or try to find out who his benefactor is and he must not change his name from Pip. He gives him money for clothes and offers money to Joe for compensation, but Joe refuses – yet another acts of kindness and humility he performs.
He buys a suit and is now being paid attention by the tailor, Trabbs, among others as they all want some of his money. Pip’s deep ingratitude and snobbery shadows his earlier kind acts and his potential to be a gentleman slips away. He says a last good bye to everyone and leaves for London, so desperate to get away that he counts down the days.
So in Book One we see two very different sides of Pip, both of which are important in his potential to be a gentleman. We see two acts of kindness and generosity towards the convict and Miss Havisham. Because of such a kind upbringing with Joe he is humble and kind and helps others, even at a young age and this shows just how nice a person Pip can be when he wants to. However these are shadowed by his blatant arrogance and embarrassment of who he is. He’s embarrassed by Joe and Biddy and his working-class lifestyle. He has no gratitude towards those who have been so kind to him, and ignores all that Joe has done for him. This arrogance and snobbery he caught at Satis House is something a gentleman shouldn’t have, and will spoil his chances if he’s not careful. However even with all these expectations, there is little sign of hope or optimism. Pip feels out of place even with his new clothes and this is a sign he may not be happy in his new class.
He arrives in London in Jagger’s office there. Jaggers is a very interesting character, he bites and throws his finger like a fishing-rod a lot. What he is doing is fishing for money and ‘portable property’ off criminals. Jaggers tells him he is to live with Herbert Pocket at his flat. Herbert Pocket was one of the Pockets we saw earlier at Satis House, the ‘pale young gentleman’ who fought with Pip, though Herbert is quite different from the rest of them. Wemmick takes him to Barnard’s Inn where Pip will now live. Two symbols occur here while he is waiting for Herbert. Firstly he writes his name, Pip, in the dusty window-sill, it is a sign that trying to grow into a gentleman while surrounded by grime and filth in London will not work, and Pip will not become one here. Secondly he looks out the window and it falls and almost guillotines him, again this is a sign that Pip will ‘lose his head’ in London and become even worse.
The area of London we see and Pip lives in is called ‘Little Britain’. This is Dickens idea of what Great Britain is quickly becoming – snobbish and greedy, feeding off other people. It comprises of Jagger’s Offices, Newgate Prison and Smithfield’s meat market. The latter two are a reflection of Jagger’s work. The prison is where Wemmick – Jaggers assistant – goes. It is like a green house full of prisoners who can grow to do more crimes and then Jaggers can get money out of them, Wemmick looks for the best ‘shoots’ who’ll get the most money. Outside the prison are the gallows where prisoners are hanged. Nearby is the meat market where bodies also are hung from the ceiling, carcasses of cows and pigs. It is ‘all wash with filth’ and again emphasises the darkness and gloom of the area.
Herbert comes back with some food for Pip, he is a humorous character, kind and gentle he adds some comic moments and is a misleading link in the plot. Pip never even expected to see him again. Another sign of disappointment and worry Pip showed towards the end of book one is repeated. He decided London is over-rated and this is the beginning of Pip’s uncomfortable feelings here. London hasn’t come up to his expectations. While they are eating yet another important piece of the whole puzzle of the book comes. Herbert tells Pip the story of Miss Havisham’s sadness. When she was young she met a man called Compeyson (the convict that Magwitch hates) and they decided to get married. However she was stood up by him on her wedding day. She was so upset she stopped all the clocks and became a recluse. She never looked after the house but stayed in her room all day long. She looked after a young girl called Estella who she used to get back at men by making her break their hearts (we’ve seen some of this in what she did to Pip). During the meal and throughout their time together Herbert has to teach Pip manners, how to hold a spoon and use a knife and fork properly.
An interesting quote which describes Pip is ‘No man who was not a gentleman in his heart, ever was in manners’. It’s saying that you can’t just become a gentleman, it’s not how you live or what you own, it’s about who you are. If you are good and kind, well behaved and well-mannered, then that is enough. Pip has become a gentleman on the outside with clothes and money, but not inside.
In the next chapter, Pip goes to see Herbert’s family, and as we’ve seen earlier when they were at Miss Havisham’s, they are a perfect example of the snobbery that Dickens tried to point out. Mrs Pocket is reading a book on titles and wants one. The house is unorganised and the parents don’t really care about the children, leaving the servants to steal food and neglect the children. It is a moment of humour again but it makes a serious point, ridiculing Victorian snobbishness. Event though Pip was brought up ‘by hand’, he was still brought up (by Joe) and the books shows that it is better that way, than not at all.
Mr Pocket is a kind, if not strict, man who runs a school for gentleman which Pip is to attend. He was the only person who warned Miss Havisham about marrying Compeyson, though this turned her against him. The snobbery of the Pocket’s is not so visible with him. There are two other students currently there as well – Bentley Drummle and a man called Startop. Drummle is a very cold man, described as ‘heavy and sulky’. He is arrogant and selfish and rude to Pip, all aspects which Pip is beginning to get. At this school Pip learns about manner and behaviour, but not much else. Pip isn’t learning academic subjects he’ll need to get a job.
Drummle belongs to a group of men called ‘The Finches’ who meet every fortnight, they are nasty people – boorish, argumentative and drunk, even though they are so-called ‘gentlemen’. When they meet, Jaggers sees Drummle as a possible future client if he gets himself in trouble as he is violent and aggressive. This company is just as bad as it was back home (not counting Joe) and will certainly not help him to become a ‘true’ gentleman.
By now Pip is settled in London and his character is developing more regarding gentlemanly elements. We can see already that this is not the place for Pip to grow into a gentlemen. The people here are selfish, greedy and snobbish. Even the actual gentleman are rude and hostile. The only real kindness we see is in Herbert and his father, both are kind people who want to help Pip, but he is so arrogant now they may not be able to help him. Pip hasn’t remembered home once, and has never written a letter back to Joe and Biddy. It shows how rude he is, not even bothering to make an effort to keep in contact and forgetting all that Joe did for him.
However we now see a new kind character, one who hasn’t played much of a role before now in the form of Wemmick. Wemmick invites Pip over for dinner at his ‘castle’ so called because that is how he sees it. In contrast to the negative and grimy London, the ‘castle’ is very different. Dicken’s idea of a romantic Old Britain, and what it should be. Wemmick lives with his father – Aged P – and although he is very old and senile, Wemmick takes good care of him, looking after his family which Pip failed to do. The house is old-fashioned with a moat and guns fired throughout the day. A complete opposite to Little Britain. It shows the two sides to Wemmick’s personality. One the one hand in London he is cold and hard, ruthless even, but at home he is warm and kind, caring and gentle. These are the real aspects to becoming a gentleman that Pip needs to learn.
Three very important things for Pip happen now. Firstly Joe comes to visit him and to tell him Miss Havisham and Estella want to see him. In a complete opposite to Wemmick caring for his father, Pip practically rejects Joe. He is worried about him coming and is embarrassed by him. He finds faults in Joe with his behaviour and manners. When Joe looked after Pip he did so well, caring for him and being kind to him. Now the roles are reversed, so is Pip. When Joe mentions the letter, Pip changes and goes back to his home to see Estella. He makes an excuse not to stay with Joe at the forge, but instead stays at the local pub. He’s made a fool of by the tailor’s worker who pretends to be frightened of him. All of Pip’s worst aspects come to here – his arrogance, greediness, ungratefulness and snobbery are all shown with him not wanting to be near Joe.
The second important thing is that Mrs Joe dies. The funeral is lavish, with people hoping Pip will pay while Pumblechook stuffs himself. Pip can’t even be kind on his sister’s funeral and he criticises Biddy for not writing to him, even though Pip hasn’t written at all since he left. He tells her that he’ll see her and Joe more often but she replies saying ‘Don’t make false promises’. Pip knows she is right and this is a small ray of light, he knows he’s doing wrong and acceptance is the first step to recovery. He dines with Miss Havisham and Estella and now she is older and even more beautiful. Even with Pip trying to become a gentleman, she is still ahead of him, never getting closer. Even though Pip knows Biddy is better for him, he is still besotted by her. He is the instrument of Estella’s first rebellion against men. She and Miss Havisham argue for the first time and Estella knows she is hard and cruel, but also that Miss Havisham made her that way. She even tells Pip this and it is best if he doesn’t try to get her any more. Soon after Pip is called by Jaggers and finds out two things, again that he can’t know anything about the person who is giving him the money and that he will now get five-hundred pounds a year income.
The third is the effect of these expectations on Pip. It is Pip’s twenty-first birthday and things are getting worse for him, he is now seriously in debt as is Herbert. Despite this he moves house twice and hires a servant, among buying food and stationery. He buys lots of furniture and lavish things for himself with his debts growing bigger by the day. However there is another glimmer of hope in the fact that he puts some of money aside for Herbert to help him out. Though Pip’s expectations are failing in some way, these few glimmers of hope show that all may not be lost and that Pip may be able to, if he tries hard, be the good person he needs to be. The money has gone to set Herbert up in a shipping business.
With book two now over Pip is not too much different from the start of the book. He is still arrogant and snobbish and is embarrassed by Joe and Biddy and wants to be good enough for Estella. None of these things have changed. However there are a few rays of hope in this otherwise gloomy outcome. He is beginning to realise what he is becoming, he know Biddy is a good and kind person and that she would be a good wife, though his snobbery makes him smitten by Estella. He sees the unkindness that snobbery and greed can bring in the case of Bentley Drummle and hopefully this may make him want to avoid this in the future. The most important thing however is that he set Herbert, now engaged to Clara, in business with a shipping company. Despite being badly in debt he gave him the job paying for it all himself and this is so kind and selfless that perhaps by the end of the novel Pip can perform more of these acts and truly be a good person, and a gentleman on the inside as well.
By the end of book two, Herbert is away on business, and on a dark stormy night, an unexpected guest appears. He is Abel Magwitch, the convict who asked for food and a file at the beginning of the book and is Pip’s benefactor. How Pip acts towards the convict changes throughout the last book and is a deciding factor in his true nature.
He invites the convict in and they talk, Magwitch asks Pip about the money and gives him clues until Pip finally realises that the person who has made him into a gentleman is Magwitch – a prisoner. This terrifies Pip, he hates these kinds of people but ironically it is he who has given him all this money. They decide to tell people that Magwitch is Pip’s Uncle Provis who is staying with him for a while. Over the next few days, Pip dislikes Magwitch even more. He eats like a dog and has very bad manners. Even though Magwitch likes Pip and wants him to be the best gentleman he can, Pip still hates him, and is amazed by his disgust to him.
Pip goes to Jaggers who verifies this for him, but warns him not to tell anyone. Magwitch was sent to Australia for life and if it is known that he is back, he will be hanged. To try and disguise him, Pip goes out and buys him some new clothes but says’ The more I dressed him… the more he looked like the slouching fugitive on the marshes’. Though Pip doesn’t realise it, he’s also talking about himself. No matter how much you dress someone up and train them, they can’t change on the inside, as Pip can’t.
He thinks that he is the monster of Frankenstein, created by Magwitch who is plagued by terror. He begins to dislike who he is, thinking that he can’t be a true gentleman if he was given his money by a criminal. This is Pip’s worst characteristic. He is prejudiced against people who are ‘poor’ or ‘common’ and doesn’t realise that it’s the person inside who counts. However Pip also doesn’t want Magwitch to be hanged on his account, another of these thin rays of hope has shone through. Because Magwitch has so much power over Pip and is giving him his money, if he was executed Pip would feel like a murderer, so he must have some feelings towards him.
Herbert is back, although Pip still feels down. He feels responsible for Magwitch’s life and doesn’t want him to throw it away. He also feels he can’t take any more money from him even though Magwitch wants him to be a true gentleman. Herbert and he hatch a plan to get him out of the country where he can live nicely abroad.
Magwitch also reveals the information about his trial and how Compeyson, the other convict, because he was a gentleman with a good accent, and clothes wasn’t punished harshly like he was – the legal system at that time was corrupt and favoured the rich and gentlemanly. Pip also realises it was Compeyson who broke Miss Havisham’s heart with her brother, Arthur. Pip can understand why Miss Havisham is so bitter and trained Estella to get back at men and forgives them both.
Pip goes to Satis House to see Estella. At the local pub he and Bentley Drummle argue there and he sees Drummle is going to ride and dine with her. Earlier she had been flirting with him. Yet again, Pip sees that Estella is cold and that he can’t have her at all, she is with Drummle now.
Miss Havisham’s aim, to hurt men has worked. Pip is now miserable and sad because he has nothing. He is in serious debt and owes a lot of money, he has lost Estella yet again and has no more expectations. Life won’t get any better and he thinks he was born for no purpose and is no good at anything.
He sees Miss Havisham and she makes fun of his sadness from Estella hurting him to punish the Pockets for being so greedy. Pip defends Matthew and Herbert saying they nice they are. There have now been a number of good acts from Pip and it looks like if he carries on he may well be a gentleman one day. He suggests that in return for her nastiness, she carries on paying for Herbert’s work. Pip and Herbert are good friends and Pip cares for him a lot, just like Joe did for Pip when he was young – his good aspects are shining through.
Knowing that Estella and he will never be together, Pip admits just how much he loves her and forgives Miss Havisham for being nasty to him. She was so determined to hurt men that she didn’t realise she was hurting Estella in the process – she made Estella so cruel and heartless that it is now reflecting back to miss Havisham – and now she and Pip have been wounded.
Estella, in rebellion to Miss Havisham who wants her to hurt even more men, says she’ll give herself away to Bentley Drummle, even though he is a thuggish brute. She knows she can never love anyone and so throws herself away. Pip forgives her as well asking God to forgive and bless her.
When he’s back in London, Wemmick tells Pip that Newgate Prison know Magwitch is back in the area and tells him to hide him. Herbert moves him to Mill Pond Bank where Clara (his fiancï¿½e) and her father live. Because Magwitch’s life is in danger, Pip feels softer towards him and his attitude becomes more caring. Magwitch tells Pip and Herbert he knows their good help will work, and Pip becomes determined to save him, he is even worried that it won’t work. Finally, since Pip was young, he now really cares about someone, caring is an element a gentleman needs and Pip is doing it well. He is helping Magwitch a lot to get him out of the country and hopes it will work.
Knowing Magwitch has done so much for him, he returns the rest of the money and wants him to have a good life abroad. However things are getting more dangerous as Compeyson is in London, having been behind Pip at the theatre one night. More things fall into play when Pip realises, through talks with Jaggers and Herbert, that Magwitch is Molly’s (the housemaid of Jaggers) wife and more importantly Estella’s father.
Miss Havisham calls Pip back to Satis House to discuss the business of Herbert’s sponsoring. Both characters here who we have seen as cold and heartless in the past now both do very kind acts. She knows she has made Pip unhappy and to try and show she can be kind, she gives him nine-hundred pounds for Herbert. Pip forgives he and says he has other sources of unhappiness than just her. By her good act and his forgiveness he has put flesh back on the ghost of Miss Havisham. Pip kindnesses are growing and even Miss Havisham is being generous. They are both being thawed from the iciness of greed. However this heat is symbolised when Pip is about to leave and Miss Havisham’s flowing dress catches fire. He desperately tries to save her, even though his hands are badly burnt. This will be too much for Miss Havisham and she soon dies. It also seems to be then end of a portion of Pip’s life.
This part of the novel seems to be full of people showing that behind their cold posterior they can be kind as well. Jaggers is the second character Pip manages to show a nice side to. After the latest revelations about Estella’s family, he goes to Jaggers and challenges him to be more open. Jaggers reveals that he also has feelings. He knows that he atmosphere in London is one of hostility and crime. Children abandoned grow up to be nothing more than criminals who he can make money out of. However he says: ‘Here was one little child out of the heap I could save’, he is talking about Estella and he is kind enough to give her to Miss Havisham as an adopted child.
Pip gives the money to ‘Clarriker’ who will make Herbert part of his business. This is significant as it is the first completed act of pure good he has done since he discovered his expectations. However things take a very nasty turn for Pip after he receives a note telling him to meet at the limekiln in Kent. There he meets Orlick who ties Pip up and tries to kill him. In this moment of near death Pip has a great fear that he will die having never told Joe and Biddy how sorry he is and how much he cares for them. Earlier he had realised how thankless he had been towards Joe despite how much he did for him, and now he fears he’ll be remembered as nasty and cruel, when he in fact he meant to be true. Thankfully Herbert, Startop and the tailor’s boy rescue him and Herbert takes him back to London to look after him. Once again Pip has showing gentlemanly elements. He is truly sorry for the past and how he treated Joe and Biddy and wants them to know that he loves them and will in future be nicer to them.
Time though is not what Pip has, when he gets back to London he realises he must get Magwitch out of the country soon. Like Joe cared for Pip, Pip now solely cares about saving Magwitch and helping him. Herbert and he hire a boat to sail far enough for Magwitch top escape but while they are doing so, a huge galley approaches boarded by police knowing Magwitch is with Pip. Also on board is Compeyson and Magwitch pulls him into the water and they wrestle. Compeyson drowns and Magwitch is very ill, dying, yet he is taken to prison. Pip is annoyed and upset that the plan was foiled but is determined to be with Magwitch in prison for as long as he can. He is finally able to love again.
Even though Pip is now more loving and caring, he also begins to get lonelier. Wemmick gets married and Herbert goes off to Egypt for the business, leaving Pip all alone with Magwitch. Pip cares more for Magwitch than for any money or possessions. But despite everything he tries, Magwitch has to stay in prison and is dying. In his last few moments, Pip tells him he is Estella’s father and he loves her. He makes Magwitch as happy as possible towards his end and he dies in peace, thinking he and Estella will wed, and Magwitch’s wealth will support them. He doesn’t know however that all his money will be taken away as he is in prison. Pip has lost Estella and the money but stays brave. He is now acting like a true gentleman, caring for others and putting love above portable property.
Pip now is also very ill; after his burns with Miss Havisham, falling in the river with Magwitch and being assaulted by Orlick he is feeling awful and become deliriously ill. After being almost unconscious for several days, he wakes up one morning to see Joe looking after him. Joe has been caring for him for several days, feeding him and more. Even after Pip has been so cold and icy towards Joe, he has such a strong good and Christian character that he not only looks after Pip, but pays off all his debts. More importantly, he has given Pip ‘the great wealth of his great nature’. He has passed his kindness onto Pip who can now love and be good towards others as well.
Pip’s illness is like a rebirth. When he has full health again he has become a good person finally. Wealth and property hasn’t made him a gentleman, but kindness and good deeds through Joe have. He realises Estella is never going to be with him, so he goes back to the Forge to see if Biddy will accept him, but she is now married to Joe. Pip’s coldness and obsession for Estella means he has lost both women. He goes off to Cairo with Herbert and Clara and works hard there to earn enough money to pay Joe back his debts.
The novel ends with Pip walking around the ruins of Satis House which is to be demolished. Here he decides that he still wants to be a gentleman, but a good one. Nothing like his old cold arrogant self, but a good Christian gentleman, like Herbert and Joe. These are the people who have prevented him from becoming a monster.
So after the whole book is over Pip has gone from a good child to a bad and selfish man, but by the very end he has returned to his former kindness. With a good upbringing from Joe who taught him to be kind and do good deeds for others, and Herbert’s gentle guidance he has realised the error of his previous ways. He has shown that he can care for people – like Magwitch, and he works hard to pay back others like Joe. In conclusion to the question at the start. I would say yes, Pip does succeed in becoming a gentleman. It has been hard, he has not had good environments in which to grow, he has done a number of bad things. But towards the end he does so many good things towards other people and finally sees how to act – like Joe, that although he may not be a perfect gentleman right at the moment. He soon will be.