Great Expectations: Pip
Charles Dickens's Great expectations is a story about a boy, Philip Pirrip,
who comes to a point in his life where his life changes drastically from the way
it was when he was growing up. Whenever this change occurs, he does his best
not to let people know about his past life where he was just a ³common² boy.
Throughout the novel, Dickens points out how people sometimes lead two lives
that they want to keep separate.
The change in Pip's life is characterized in several ways. First of all,
there is a physical change, when he moves to London. That just accentuates the
difference between the two ³lives.² Before, he lived in a small town that was
near some marshes, both of which reflect the ³common² side of his life. London
is seen by Pip as a great and wonderful city which symbolizes his expectations
of what is to come in his future. Another change in his life is that he is
treated better by others. Mr. Trabb, the tailor, takes exception to Pip after
he hears that he has come into a fortune. He measures Pip very quickly, and
gets angry at his son for not showing the same respect of Pip¹s wealth. Then,
when he next sees Pumblechook, he repeatedly asks Pip if he may shake his hand,
as if it is some great honor. Before the news, he hardly treated Pip any
differently than any other common boy. Pip also looks to the way his new
acquaintances are treated, most notably Mr. Jaggers. He is treated with a great
deal of respect by everyone, and even invokes fear in some. Pip had never seen
this level of respect for someone that was his direct acquaintance before,
except for Miss Havisham, who he knew had great wealth.
This dual lifestyle is paralleled in Mr. Wemmick, the clerk for Mr.
Jaggers. Mr. Wemmick, when at work, only thinks about his work, and doesn¹t let
his personal life affect how he goes about his business. The flip side of the
coin is also true, as when he goes home, he forgets about anything that happened
at work, and concentrates on making his deaf father happy. The scene when he
takes Pip to work shows the change that he goes through on his way to work: ³By
degrees, Wemmick got dryer and harder as we went along, and his mouth tightened
into a post-office again.² Just like Pip, he changes how he acts according to
which role he is playing.
Whenever the two lives come together, it is hard for Pip to determine
what to do about it. He seems not to want his two lives to mix, but is helpless
to prevent it. Whenever Joe says he is coming to London, Pip doesn¹t like he
idea, but he ends up coming anyway. Also, when he finds that Orlick is working
for Miss Havisham, he is apparently shocked. He remembers him working for Joe,
and doesn¹t think it¹s right that he¹s now working as Miss Havisham¹s watchman.
In society today, people often lead these dual lives. I have known many
people who, when at school, take it very seriously and work hard at it, but when
the weekend comes, they take their partying just as seriously. Another way that
people lead separate lives is when they hide who they really are and pretend
they are someone else. Mostly this happens because that person is afraid that
they will not ³fit in² with the rest of the crowd. Ok, I'll come clean. At one
time I was one of these people that tried to fit in. I later realized that I
was just denying who I really am. I have a feeling that, by the end of the
novel, Pip will have a better standing of who he really is.
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