Conscience as It Relates to Great Expectations

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Conscience is truly a dreadful thing. It judges us more heavily than any court and is

inescapable. Mahatma Gandhi once said that, "There is a higher court than courts of justice and

that is the court of conscience. It supersedes all other courts." Conscience affects all of us. It is

no wonder that Mark Twain had a desire for the simple life. He once said that, "Good friends,

good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life." One of the greatest examples of

Conscience and how it affects a boy named Pip is found in Great Expectations by Charles

Dickens.

What would you do if you were forced to do something that conflicted everything you

believed in? In the story, Pip is confronted with a similar scenario in which he has to steal food

for an escaped convict who threatened to kill him. While in the process of stealing he is

tormented by his conscience. In he state his mistakes the squeaks of the floorboards as the

floorboards screaming and warning his family of his theft. Pip, while taking the food to the

convict, thinks the gates and the dikes are yelling at him, and that everything in the marsh was

running at him instead of him running at it. In the act of stealing, Pip gets away clean, although

his conscience is truly the punishment for his actions. Pip is overwhelmed by the guilt that he

stole and contemplates telling someone, yet regardless of his aching conscience he decides

against it.

Mistakes always seem to have a way of coming back to hurt you. Pip almost experiences

this at the family Christmas party, when unbeknownst to him, soldiers are searching for the very

same fugitive that Pip helped. Pip’s initial reaction was that the soldiers were there to arrest him,

although as the issue developed he determined that they were only there to fix a pair of

handcuffs. When the soldiers there offered to let some of the men of the family go to watch the

apprehension of the fugitive, the men of...
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