Class is a central theme throughout the novel. In the nineteenth century class divisions were very strict and class was not just about money but dress, speech, manners and behavior. Pip changes class from a country laborer to a city gentleman in the novel and realizes that to be a true gentleman you have to be a good person inside like Joe Gargery. Pip lived in a cottage in the marsh country of Kent with his sister Mrs. Joe Gargery and her husband Joe Gargery the Blacksmith.
Pips mother and father were both dead, so Pips sister grudgingly brought him up. Joe was a mild, good natured, easy going and sweet tempered yet foolish man. This is a complete contrast to Mrs. Joe Gargery who, as you read the book more, you like less and less. Joe and pip got on well as Mrs. Joe Gargery overpowered them both, Pip treats Joe as, ” a larger species of child,” and Joe treats Pip almost as his equal, but they both have respect for each other.
Satis House was very dark inside the only light came from a candle that Estella holds, ” still it was all dark, and only the candle lighted us,” This is showing another contrast, this time of light and dark. In Miss Havishams room it was still dark but everything in it looked old and as if it had not been used in years, ” everything which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre, and was faded and yellow.
” When Miss Havisham asks Pip to Play cards with Estella, Estella, who thought she was much higher in class than Pip, kept criticizing him, ” he calls the Knaves, Jacks this boy,” and, ” What course hands he has! And what thick boots!”
Pip is affected by this and felt ashamed of who he was, ” I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before, but began to consider them a very indifferent pair.” Estella had made Pip feel he and his family were not good enough and Pip wanted to do something about it. Pip is wrong about having to dress well and act as though everyone is beneath you to be a gentleman, its what’s inside that counts but Pip didn’t realize that at the time. I don’t think Estella is a very nice person because she treats Pip like dirt, I think it has something to do with the way Miss Havisham has brought her up, to break someone else’s heart like hers was broken, ” Well? You can break his heart.”
In chapter fourteen Pip says, ” I had believed in The Forge as the glowing road to manhood and independence. Within a single year all this was changed.” Pip decides he wants to become a gentleman not a Blacksmith like he always thought he would be. Jaggers arrives in chapter eighteen and says, ” and be brought up as a gentleman- in a word, as a young fellow of great expectations.” Pip is thrilled at being given this chance, ” My dream was out; my wild fancy was surpassed by sober reality,” his dream was about to come true.
Pip moves in with Herbert Pocket the boy he had a fight with outside Miss Havishams. Herbert helps Pip with his table manners while eating showing him how a gentleman eats. He does this in a polite way, ” it is not the custom to put the knife in the mouth- for fear of accidents,” he tells him what he is doing wrong, but not accusingly more in a friendly way, then tells him why not to do it. When Herbert tells Pip about Compeyson, Miss Havishams ex Fiancï¿½, he says, ” no varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and the more varnish you put on the more the grain will express itself.” Here he is talking about Compeyson, on the outside he may look like a gentleman, but underneath he certainly was not. Compeyson was not a gentleman as he used Miss Havisham for her money and left her before the wedding.
In the beginning of chapter twenty- seven, Biddy does not read to Joe the line in her letter which asks Pip to see Joe when he goes to visit, this is because she worries that now Pip is a gentleman he wont have time for Joe. When Joe arrived, Pip was very polite to him and made conversation, ” And you, Joe, look wonderfully well.” Pip is annoyed with Joe for calling him sir as Joe has always been around for him and Pip had always treated him more as an equal, than as if he were above him in class, ” Joe-how can you call me sir,”
Pip wants to become a gentleman in the first section of the novel, because Estella, who Pip finds very beautiful and thinks of as a lady, makes him feel that he is ‘common’. In the second stage of the novel Pip becomes a gentleman like he wanted, but is ashamed of his background with Joe, Biddy and the forge. The plots then join up in the third stage of the novel and Pip has to reassess his perception of people and class.
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