Great Expectations Essay, Research Paper
by: Charles Dickens
In the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the dominant theme is
that true goodness and the value of goodness comes from inside a person, not
their standing in society, or their wealth. There are some characters in the
book who were aware of this, while there are some who tied to find out the hard
way. Those who found out the hard way lead very difficult lives, and those who
knew this truth, led more peaceful, and fulfilling lives.
The main character of the novel, Pip, starts out as a little boy who is
very unsatisfied with his life. He lives with his sister and her kind husband,
Joe. After Pip’s view of the upper class life, living with these “common
people” just wouldn’t do it for him. He wanted to be something better than he
was, but it’s not just because he was selfish and ignorant, it was also
contributed to by Estella, a girl Pip fell in love with. 11 … Why, he is a common
laboring-boy,” (561) were the exact words that broke Pip’s heart and drove him
to yearn so much to be a gentleman. He dreaded the word ‘@common”. It was not
good enough for his girl, Estella. He had what Dickens called “great
Pip’s expectations of are what finally bring him to realize the importance
and value of true goodness. He is brought to London where he was to become a
gentleman. But he only finds that life there was even more unsatisfying. He
grows deeper in debt, and starts loosing friends because he felt he was better
than them. When he visited Pip was actually embarrassed by him, one of the few
people who loved him most and cared for him so much when he was a child, and Pip
just turned him away. He even did the same to Magwitt@i, a person who had
dedicated his life toward helping. When Magwitch finally revealed to him that
he was Pip’s benefactor all Pip had to say was, “Oh, no, no, no… Was there no
one else!’ … Estella, Estella!” (522) All Pip cared about was himself and getting
together with Estella.
It was not until the loss of people very close to Pip, Magwitch and Miss.
Havisham, that he began to realize that goodness does not come from material
possessions, and social standing, but from inside a person. When Pip lost
Magwitch, his eyes were opened and he realized how ignorant and selfish he had
been to the people who cared for him.
On the other hand, Joe, was pretty much the opposite of Pip in his
satisfaction with life. Joe realized fully, the value of true goodness. He was
completely satisfied with the way he lived and who he was. Joe did not have to
learn this the hard way as Pip did, because Joe never had a problem with who he
was. He never needed to be better or higher in society than he was, just to
prove it to himself or for someone else.
Joe even tries to help Pip feel more satisfied with his life by telling him that
he is actually Very uncommon in many ways. “You’re oncommon small. Likewise
you’re a oncommon scholar.” And he encourages him, “you must be a common
scholar afore you can be a oncommon one,” (565) to help Pip through his times
of low self-esteem- Joe is also very forgiving. Even with all the selfish ways
Pip treated him when he was “a gentleman”, Joe still continued to carp. for and
love Pip. When Pip was ill, Joe was by his side, and when Pip was in debt, Joe,
even though he is not wealthy, pays off his bills for him. This frame of mind
and knowledge of true goodness leads to Joe living a very peaceful, pleasant,
and satisfying life.
In the book, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, while some characters must
find out that true goodness and character does not come from status or material
possessions, but from just plain kindness, the hard way, there are those gentle
more peaceful characters who realize the true value of goodness. It is obvious
that those who realize this will lead better, more satisfying lives, and not
have to figure it out for themselves the hard way.