English 1A, Period 7/8Mrs.
Walwark1/6/98Great Expectations: Self ConflictThrougout his novel, Dickens explored the constant struggle Pip faces as he realizes the dangers of being driven by a desire for wealth and social status. Pip attempts to achieve greater things for himself while holding on to important morals and values. Pip always feels a loyalty to Joe, his “ever the best of friends.” This, along with the realization that his true priorities should be those that love him, guides Pip through changes in his character and directs him through his internal struggle.
In stage one, Pip is confronted with a torrent of opportunities and possibilities that get him thinking about what he truly wants for himself. His desire to win Estella shifts his direction down a path toward propriety and business, a road to London. Her rejection of him damages his pride and esteem so much as to make him want to change his entire life and character to meet her approval. At this point, he rejects the love that those like Joe and Biddy offer, and feels he will not see himself as worthy, unless he meets the approval of the cold and haughty miss Estella. This powers him to accept an offer to become a gentleman, and to be taught in London, where he starts to stray ever-farther from those who truly love him.
As Pip begins his progression toward being a gentleman, he is faced with a world that appears frightening, a commercial world of protocol and etiquette that Pip blindly sees as the answer to the shortcomings he sees in himself. He meets a man by the name of Magwitch, who he immediately refuses to see as anything but a cold criminal, one inadequate by his new-found standards. He would later review these feelings and see that underneath the petty judgement Pip gives to the man, there rests a caring man, that Pip comes to respect.
This revelation would surface again in the third stage.At the end of stage one, Pip saw Joe as coarse and uncouth, he began to look down upon those he once admired. In the final stage, Pip reflects on these feelings and realizes that his trivial desires for a life worthy of Estella’s approval have shielded him from the true value of having loving and constant friends.His values and morals did not allow him to prosper in the complex world of London, and he came to realize his true feelings. He stepped away from the path he once saw as his way to self-worth, and returned to his true beliefs, his true friends.
Great Expectations shows the need Pip has to establish his own sense of self-worth against the plans others have made for him, and thus hold a set of firm values and priorities. In this, he triumphed over the clouded beliefs that he was too dignified for those who loved him most. He was able to get past the harsh exterior of Magwitch and see the goodness in him. He rediscovered his love for Joe and Biddy and realized their love meant more than he once believed.
Sometimes, we must stray away from what we know, and look back, to realize what we truly left behind.