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Pips Self Identity In Great Expectations English Literature Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2144 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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‘Great Expectations’ is one of the fascinating novels of Charles Dickens. The main protagonist of the novel is Pip, who narrates his own life experience with the reader. Pip is confused about his own life, he does not understand his expectations in life, he is not certain about his own identity. He is uncertain where did he come from and where he is going as he lost his parents when he was very young and brought up by his sister. The story contains his childhood, adolescent and adulthood. He narrates his life experience from childhood to his adulthood where he at the last stage of his life we can realize that he found his own identity. This essay will examine the fact that the novel “great Expectations’ is the story where Pip found his own identity.

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Pip, throughout his life was enraged by the behavior of Mrs. Joe, by snobbishness of Estella which ultimately came to his realization to reform himself into a stronger man. He realized that the position he was in being in his sister’s family, he will never be able to marry Estella, so he had great expectations to change himself and be a part of the upper class family and finally marry Estella. Waters further states “Pip is desperately laying claim to a position within the discourse of middle class domesticity and assumptions in forming his representations of the family and female nature are one of the means by which he established to seek his identity.”(waters154). He dreamt of living a wealthy life, dreamt of getting education abroad and most significantly thus marrying Estella, for that reason he forced himself to come out from his low class family and reforming his own self.

Bloom explains that Pip first becomes his identity of things when he was overwhelmed and was held captive by the convict. He was an innocent child and felt extremely bad seeing the unfortunate condition of the old Magwitch who was covered with mud. Bloom wants to say that “every child, whatever his innocence, inherits guilt for the condition of man” (Bloom 63). He suggests that Pip inherited sins from the “fathers” that is how his invasion of his natural order begins through his first consciousness. He was holding himself guilty seeing Magwitch, and what was done in the past was responsible also for present and the future and ‘world’s guilt is his guilt’ and he was feeling sorry for the guy so he helped Magwitch by stealing and bringing him food. He did not want to steal food and help the convict but he was scared and felt guilty inside that if he does not help the convict, he would kill him. He is unaware of his own identity, he is not stronger within himself and thus he is a victim of the convict. He believed him and helped him. By feeling guilty he was gaining his consciousness, he began to understand what was right and what was wrong, which was reforming him in a new Pip.

Bloom further discusses that Pip felt a strong guilt when he discovered that he might be the reason of Mrs. Joe’s invalid situation, as Orlick must had used the file to attack her which Pip used to free Magwitch, the convict. In this issue Cotsell believes that “The charge he makes with the greatest force and the conviction is that Pip bears the final responsibility for the assault on Mrs. Joe.” (cotsell78). Pip, as a naive boy was filled with guilt, because of his sister’s accident, by whom he was brought up, that also brought his realization of his own consciousness by feeling extremely guilty. Rawlins says in Great expectations ‘pip’s sense of guilt is awareness of his own sin, and moves him to reformation.”(sell79).

Pip was brought up by his sister Mrs. Joe and her husband. He was also deprived of motherly love and affection and thus Houston says “pip is not born he is made” (bloom161). Mrs. Joe raised Pip “by her hands and believed that he should not be pampered” (Bloom160). Pip was not happy living with his sister, so he wanted to find a different life with a different identity. He was not satisfied being a low class member in the society so he wanted to marry Estella and expected to be a member of a higher society.

Bloom discusses that Pip was treated like a ‘thing’ by adults such as Mrs. Joe and pumblechook and Wopsle, they used to manipulate Pip making him feel guilty and diminished and thus they felt virtuous. Thus he experienced self awareness and guiltiness as he was incapable of dealing with the adults. Pip on one side believed and felt that Mrs. Joe was his only close one and on the other hand was fearful of her and felt trapped being in the family but still he “established a great reputation with her and the neighbours because she had brought me [pip] up by hand”(dickens11). Pip felt that Joe and he himself was also trapped in the same situation by Mrs. Joe and thus he “always treated him [Mr.joe] as a larger species of child and as no more than my [pip’s] equal”(dickens13) which, ultimately forced him to reform himself into a stronger person than Mr. Joe.

Pip also said that he believed the way his sister brought her up ‘by hand’ the same way ‘She must have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand”(Dickens12). And when he witnessed Joe being fearful and tense by the intimidation of his sister on the dinner table Pip “sat in the corner looking guiltily on”(dickens15). He had nothing to do to save Joe and himself, he felt trapped and wanted to break free, wanted to change and get a new life.

Estella plays a major role in pip’s life which resulted in Pip’s new identity formation and forced him to alter himself to a new modern Pip. Water states “Pip also uses Estella to ground his own identity, to signify his own moral development”(watres160). Pip did not have any idea that Havisham is using Estella to break his heart. He became aware of the fact who his actual benefactor was, from Herbert and came to his senses. After meeting Estella, Pip became aware of his own identity and social class and was filled with ‘self rejection, in trying to brew a new identity for himself’ (raina115). Estella was in a spell of Mrs. Havisham where she was using her to break other men’s heart and Pip was also unaware of his own self. Again being treated poorly by Estella Pip visited her almost everyday even when “EÑ•tella waÑ• alwayÑ• abоut, and alwayÑ• let me[pip] in and оut, but never tоld me I might kiÑ•Ñ• her again. ЅоmetimeÑ•, Ñ•he wоuld cоldly tоlerate me; ѕоmetimeÑ•, Ñ•he wоuld cоndeÑ•cend tо me: ѕоmetimeÑ•, Ñ•he wоuld be quite familiar with me; ѕоmetimeÑ•, Ñ•he wоuld tell me energetically that Ñ•he hated me. MiÑ•Ñ• HaviÑ•ham wоuld оften aÑ•k me in a whiÑ•per, оr when we were alоne, ‘DоeÑ• Ñ•he grоw prettier and prettier, Pip” (DickenÑ•92). He wanted to make him worthy of Estella, he wanted to change his clothing, his look, and he was humiliated by realizing his own social class. Even if Estella was continuingly ignored and humiliated him, Pip thought he deserved it, as he thought Estella was too good for him. Houston says Pip who is dickens’s alter ego struggled with his self aggrandizing, personality, came face to face with sensual and heartless women Estella(quoted in Bloom ). Pip could not help falling in love with Estella and placed the responsibility for his own character on the woman he loved. He was blindly in love with Estella, without being concerned about the consequences. Pip is “notwithstanding the destabilization of identity he is forced to undergo and she therefore helps to focus of the role of gender and autobiographical narrative in the construction of the self in the novel”(waters160). He was unaware that Miss Havisham is just playing a game with Estella to break Pip’s heart, within himself he was also playing a game with his own self. He was madly in love with Estella but in his subconscious mind he knew marrying her was the only way to become a part of a high society.

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Pip was also thought that Miss Havisham was providing his money for his education. He thought that Mrs. Havisham wanted him to marry Estella. Moyhanan discusses that Pip was also in dark side longing for Estella and not knowing who his true benefactor was. Without any evidence Pip believed that one day Estella will bestow upon Pip by Miss Havisham as “everything else” has been. Here Moyhanan meant by everything else’ is the fortune that Pip got from Magwitch thinking that Havisham was the actual benefactor and when Magwitch returned and “Pip is forced to wake up and recognize that life is not after all a fairy tale” (cotsell79) We can see here that Pip found his realization back, but before he was left in the dark and was being fooled what was happening in his life, unaware of his own identity. Pip realized that like all other people he also had to struggle and just not accept the free fortune from his beneficial and “with this awaking to reality he develops a capacity for active, self-bestowing love”(cotsell80). As Pip said “I only saw a man who had meant to be my benefactor, and who had felt affectionately, gratefully, and generously, towards me with great constancy through a series of years. I only saw in him a much better man than I had been to Joe.”(dickens521). Finding who his actual benefactor was Pip realized that he was wasting his time thinking Mrs. Havisham was providing him with the money and so he could turn into a gentleman and marry estella. He became aware of his own fault, became more conscious of his own self and the fact that life is not like a fairy tale, where the Prince and the Princess find true love and live happily ever after.

By sending Pip to Mrs. Havisham’s house Mrs. Joe was also expecting financial support from Pip as she believed that Pip was her property. Finding Estella in Pip’s life he realized the absence of love in his life even though Estella was being snob and was neglecting him most of the time, Pip’s inner expectation was Havisham will let him marry estella.

Moynahan explains that Pip became aware of his guilt when he realized that he behaved snobbishly with Biddy and Uncle Joe after he returned from London to visit them. He explains that snobbery is not a crime, then why Pip was feeling guilty? Snobbery and murder are not alike but both “involve the culpable wish to repudiate or deny the existence of other human beings” (Cotsell 74). All Pip wanted was to marry estella, be a part of the high class society and get out fromhis sister’s family which represented a low class. When he came back to visit Biddy he behaved snobbishly with them, he still did not find his own self then. He was still on the dark side. He did not realize that what was important in his life. Uncle Joe was a part of him still he was in his adolescent and Biddy used to love and admire him. Without acknowledging them Pip went after for Estella who was snobbish and ignored him. And thus he was still not soncious about the fact what did he want, what was important in his life.

Pip is the narrator of the novel and within this character dickens expresses as Newlin states “a truly convincing evolution of character from simplicity through spurious, superficial success to a chastened, authentic self reliance.” (newlin5). Pip from an innocent child, grew older and learnrt about the notoriety in the society, the class and discrimination. He realized Estella’s snobbishness. That is how he healed himself by knowing the truth, by knowing what the future held. In the end of the novel Pip finally came to his realization that class position and wealth is not the main thing in life. He said “But that poor dream, as I once used to call it, has all gone by, Biddy all gone by”(Dickens449). He realized that Biddy loved him and uncle Joe cared for him much deeply and his true benefactor was Matgwitch and not Mrs. Havisham. The only thing important in his life was true love and nothing else. He realized that if a person treuly loves another she will marry him and be with him no matter what his class is. In the end of the novel we see Pip and Estella together and Pip said ‘I had seen before, what I never seen before, was the sadden soften light of the once proud eyes, what I had never felt before was the friendly touch of the once insensible hand”(Dickens450). And thus finding his true love in this way and realizing the truth about society, he reformed himself to a more matured and better person and found his new identity.


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