Self Actualization In Great Expectations Essay, Research Paper
Self Actualization in Great ExpectationsThe ideal state of mind that a person can achieve is called self actualization or to become fully human. Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations told the story of how a boy named Pip worked to achieved this. More specifically, Dickens wrote how Pip learning from his experiences was able to put external factors, like social class, aside, and discover his own potential. Only after this discovery did Pip gain true independence and was able to accept himself with all his faults, including his social class. It was Pip’s ideas of social class seen in his early life that restricts him from accepting himself. Pip as a child first learned of social class from Estella. Pip’s first experience of feeling lower appeared in the first scene with Estella; where Estella had insulted him and Pip was deeply affected:I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong that it became infectious, and I caught it.(p.55). This passage was a good example of Pip being ashamed of his social class and because of this had not been able to like himself. Pip eventually developed a fixed idea of social class and could not be satisfied as he was. This lead to his great desire of becoming a gentleman:Well, then, understand once and for all that I never shall or can be comfortable – or anything but miserable – there Biddy! – unless I can lead a very different sort of life from the life I lead now.(p.120)This referred to Pip’s inability to accept being who he was born as, and because he could not do this he could not be content with himself. Dickens writes that it was through Pip’s experiences that he frees himself from the idea of social class, and it was social class which caused his judgement of others. Pip’s progressive growth of being able to see past social class was true in his experience with Provis. Pip first thought of Provis with disgust:The abhorrence in which I held the man, the dread I had of him, the repugnance with which I shrank from him could not have been exceeded if he had been some terrible beast.(p. 298)This quote shows how much Pip disliked Provis even though he didn’t know him. Pip later sees Provis differently:For now my repugnance to him had all melted away, and in the hunted wounded shackled creature who held my hand in his, 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.(p.415)
Pip’s new feelings of Provis show Pip’s learned understanding of other people. Provis also was important because he reminded Pip of how he treated Joe:But, sharpest and deepest pain of all – it was for the convict, guilty of I knew not what crimes, and liable to be taken out of those rooms where I sat thinking, and hanged at the old Bailey door, that I had deserted Joe.(p. 301). Pip felt guilty for deserting Joe and therefor acknowledged he had done so. The experience with Joe also caused Pip to put social class aside. Pip understood how cruelly he treated Joe and how good a person Joe was and so Pip apologized:Pray tell me, both that you forgive me! Pray let me hear you say the words, that I may carry the sound of them away with me, and then I shall be able to believe that you can trust me, and think better of me, in the time to come!(p.446)Pip’s experience with Joe’s and Biddy’s kindness caused Pip to finally realize how wrong he was for thinking they were lower; and thinking himself lower for being part of their class. By losing the sense of social class he could be more accepting of himself. A third part of Pip accepting his life comes after he becomes an independent person. He becomes an independent person after he can no longer depend on Provis to give him money. He gets a job working for Herbert and later becomes his partner. We were not a grand way of business but we had a good name, and worked for our profits, and did very well.(p.446). Pip learned that even though he had to work it was still respectable. In this way Pip could respect himself. This is the respect he needed to accept his status. Dickens’ story told of how Pip could learn to recognize people for what they were and not see them in terms of social status. Pip could then accept himself with his status as working class and become an independent person. These traits in a person relates to traits of a self accepting, self actualized person; these are the traits that would be good in all people, even today.