I am going to base my coursework on question 14 on what Dickens thought what meant to be a gentleman. I am going to do this because I too found this interest to what it actually means to be a gentleman. Throughout the novel of Great Expectations, Dickens is interested in what it means to be a gentleman. He tries to show us by telling us a story about a young boy Pip in which he grows up trying to become a gentleman, through Joe who is Pip’s brother in law who is a poor but a decent, hardworking man and also Magwitch the convict, who changes through the story but Pip especially changes.
Great Expectations was narrated by Pip which he talks about his childhood and he growing up. This is called Bildungstoman. There was only really one reason why Pip wanted to become a gentleman, and that was to impress Estella, the girl he loved ever since he first gazed into her beautiful eyes. I thought that this was a bad choice to do because he tried to become something which he really that he wasn’t was by changing class systems. “Biddy” [… ], “I want to be a gentleman”. Even Biddy thought that this was not a good idea and tried to warn him not to.
“Oh, I wouldn’t if I was you”, [… ] “I don’t think it would answer”. He thinks that by being a gentleman, he can win over Estella’s heart, but he thinks that by becoming a gentleman, he and Estella would be equal. I think this because back in the Victorian Times, class was very important of a person’s status and place in society and still is nowadays but some people now don’t like to think about it and think of each other as equals. Dickens tells us this by when Pip says that he wants to become a gentleman.
It’s not really him wanting to become a gentleman; I think Dickens replaces “need” with “want”. I say this because Pip needs to become a gentleman to win over Estella’s heart otherwise he can’t. The word “Expectations” is repeated time to time in the novel. Dickens uses this word because I think it has something to do with Pip becoming a gentleman. I think that the word Expectation means something that someone or something has to live up to or they know what they have to do. It’s like a duty to fulfil.
When Pip was young, he was expected to be Joe’s apprentice and work in the Blacksmith all his life but because his desire to win Estella, he wants to become a gentleman so he has new expectations but he is preoccupied of finding Estella. When Pip was a child, he was quite poor and lived with his sister who was married to Joe Gargery who is a blacksmith. His parents had died and so did his other young brother and sisters when they were very young who were beside their tombs aswell. This told me how poor people die earlier in life because they cannot afford medical care and live hygienically.
But when he was asked to visit Ms. Havisham, it all changed there. He found out that some people have better lives than him because they are richer. I think this may have influenced him, making him want to be that aswell. These people were high in societies who were educated, so he thought that if he was to become a gentleman, he would be in a high society enabling him to marry Estella. Pip only had 1 sister and lived with her alongside Joe Gargery. His best was Biddy, his childhood friend. We never saw Pip hardly talking to his sister that much but he did talk to her politely and helped along in the house.
Maybe this was because her sister always bragged that she raised him and she spent her life on him only making him feel rather guilty. This must of persuaded him to be like this to her. His behaviour didn’t change that much around Mrs Joe Gargery but later on she did die on illness which must of made Pip really upset by this. Pip and Joe got on very well with each other. They would often speak freely with each other. Before, Pip was thrilled to be Joe’s apprentice, but I think Satis House really affected his mind and what and how he spoke to others.
“that I shall never forget you”. Joe really means something to Pip at the beginning. I think the politeness of Joe was a good influence for Pip to have around him. But when he left for London, things changed. Pip receives a letter from Biddy, telling him that Joe is coming to visit him. Pip was not happy by this. “Let me confess [… ], not with great pleasure”. The word “confess” feels as if he is hiding his feelings from even himself and feels guilty about this. You can see the changes the class system has made into his mind, making him think bad things.
Pip even began to think negative things about a person who he spent most of his life with. “I knew it was Joe by his clumsy manner of coming up the stairs”. Pip knows that it’s Joe approaching his door but instead of pointing out a normal thing which he would of normally of said before, he has disputably said a negative thing which again I blame the class system. Another thing was that before Pip left, he hugged Joe and left but when they met they only shook hands which even Joe thought he changed a bit proving again the class system changing a person especially a youthful mind.
Pip treated Biddy very nicely and talked to her politely. These 2 were best friends since their childhood. We don’t see Biddy and Pip talk until Pip changes a bit and tells her about him wanting to become a gentleman. This was an important part because Biddy realises that Pip is changing and warns him not to go ahead of what he is planning. He takes into his head but then is overpowered by his will of Estella’s love. Pip gets a little angry at her too. “(I don’t know), I moodily answered”. The word moodily suggests he doesn’t like what she is suggesting to him and gets a little eager at her.
“I am very sorry to see this in you. You are envious [… ], dissatisfied on the account of my rise in fortune and you cant help showing it”. He thinks that she is saying all this because she is jealous of him becoming richer but she is not and just wants the wellness of her dear friend. I think this changed the relationship between these 2 because Pip kept failing on the wrong side of what Biddy actually went. I think that Pip should of atleast been more emotional when he left because I think that he was too over excited in leaving.
Too me, he was forgetting what was more important in life than status. The only closest person around Pip who was the perfect and suited role model of a gentleman was dear Joe Gargery. He had the characteristics of what a gentleman would have without status though. I felt sorry for him from time to time because he deserved better but he was happy the way everything was. “I’m sorry to say, I’ve eaten your pie”.
The convict admitted that he ate his pie and Joe replied, “god knows you’re welcome to it, […], we wouldn’t have you starved to death”. He was so sweet and kind to the convict that he thought of the positive thing which was not to let a human being as himself starve. The word “welcome” tells me that he is a kind, decent and acts like a gentleman would without boasting. Dickens creates a character like Pip that treats people this way because I think that even Dickens wasn’t sure of what a gentleman was so to go through this change would make him see the audiences response of what they thought a gentleman was.
I think this is quite an effective technique using the audience to see how they respond to these changes because it gives him an idea of what a gentleman is so then he can add it to his novel. To me, Joe is a gentleman. The way he acts and the words he says to people is a way a gentleman would speak: politely, caring, sharing, and hard working especially when he wasn’t upset when the convict took his pie but was actually thankful for not letting himself starve which most people in this world would not do. He never really says anything bad to anyone that offends them or makes them upset.
A gentleman is a person who stands out and to me; Joe stands out as a character. Dickens portrays Joe to how Pip should be I think. I say this because when Pip becomes a gentleman, Joe was already one to everyone so I think he was setting an example. I think he’s just a good person because he just lives a simple, easy and nice life. It also could be by the fact that he was raised like this by his parents but I don’t know because the novel does not mention his background, just that he is married to Pip’s elder sister.