Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Essay Research

Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Essay, Research Paper

Moral Maturity In Charles Dickens’ novel, Great Expectations, the main character

Pip undergoes a constant moral maturing. Pip’s original childhood innocence was

stripped of him when he began to desire material wealth and influence. His fear

of certain characters like Mrs. Joe and Magwitch inspired him to do some

undesirable things. Next, when Pip was in London being supported by his convict,

he spent his money recklessly in an attempt to gratify himself. Finally, after

Pip realized the truth about people, his formerly selfish attitude turned

altruistic and he accepted others for whom they are: not for what they look

like. In Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations, Pip experienced three basic

stages of moral maturity: fear, self- satisfaction, and altruism. The first

stage Pip went through relative to his moral development was fear. in this

stage, Pip’s main excuse for his actions was his fear of punishment. Fear can

inspire a person to think irrationally and make him/her aware only of

themselves. Reacting out of fear is natural, but it must be overcome sooner or

later to spur on further growth as a person. Pip displayed this weakness because

Mrs. Joe was constantly beating and threatening him. This kind of behavior made

Pip very sensitive and easily swayed in his thoughts. In this quote, Pip is

inspired by fear to lie to his sister and Mr. Pumblechook, ‘7 was perfectly

frantic – a reckless witness under the torture – and would have told them

anything." (ch. 9 pg. 97) Another specific example of Pip acting out of

fear was when he met Magwitch, his convict, on the marshes and was told to bring

him a file and some whittles or else Pip’s liver would be ripped out by the

convict’s friend. This incident spurred Pip on to steal from Mrs. Joe and lie to

his family. Acting out of fear is the least mature response to a situation. This

response of Pip’s signifies his inability to manage his own life in the future.

Next, Pip’s actions are encouraged by self-interest. This stage of maturity is

probably the most common stage displayed in people. Pip’s desire for

self-satisfaction leaves him eventually with a broken heart, no money, and

distance from his dearest friends, Joe and Biddy. This stage in Pip’s life was

brought about primarily through his infatuation with Estella and ultimately by

his new fortune which Magwitch secretly bestowed upon him. Even though Pip had

almost everything he could desire materially, he was not truly happy as one can

perceive from this quote, "’…Fortune alone has raised me; that is being

very lucky. And yet when I think of Estella- …. I cannot tell you how

dependent and uncertain I feel.,, (ch. 30, pg. 269) Sadly enough, Pip still

feels as though he must have everything if he wants to be a

"gentleman," so he joins an elite club, Finches of the Grove, buys

expensive furnishings and hires a housekeeper. This reckless spending of money

does not make Pip truly happy because he is not being true to himself. Pip

displayed this haughty attitude up until the point when he discovered that

Magwitch was his benefactor, not Mrs. Havisham. This single event seems to

shatter Pip’s ever growing ego and turn him into the true gentleman he wants to

be. Finally, Pip’s change from self-satisfaction to altruism is indeed very

noble. Pip realizes that he should not judge others based on appearance, but

rather on who they are on the inside. This point of change was made only after

spending time with Magwitch and realizing how much he was grateful to him and

how much Magwitch loved him. Pip stays true to the end with Magwitch and never

abandons him as shown when Pip states, "I will never stir from your side…

when I am suffered to be near you. Please God, I will be as true to you as you

have been to me." (ch. 54, pg. 457) This goes to prove that people can

change, but only after they experience love. Pip’s unconditional love for

Magwitch was definite because he had nothing to gain from him. Only now does Pip

realize how much he has missed in life and how sorry he is for missing it. His

apology to Joe and Biddy shows that they are forgiving characters and that Pip

is now one of them. Pip’s acting out of the goodness of his heart demonstrates

that deep down inside, he was a sort of hero to himself. In Charles Dickens’

novel, Great Expectations, the main character Pip undergoes a constant moral

maturing. This development in Pip’s nature is whole and just needed some

prodding to show itself. Pip began as an innocent child, became corrupted by

fear, pursued wealth through material goods, and finally learned that true

happiness came from within. By doing generous and kind acts, people can be even

happier than if they owned everything in the world. Pip’s maturing was indeed

admirable. Even through all of his hardships and misfortunes of the mind, Pip

manages to end up a respectable, true gentleman.


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