Human nature is the psychological and social qualities that characterize humankind. Human nature separates humans from the rest of the animal kingdom. The underlining theme of human nature is evident in Great Expectation by Charles Dickens use of his characters.
A main characteristic that Dickens displays is friendship. The friendship between Pip and Herbert is strong. Herbert was significant to Pip’s growth in social class and eventual to his revelation. “Friendship was one of the human characteristics Dickens enjoyed…by associating fellowship with good characters and deeds, he made it known that he admires friendship.” (MacAndrew 168) Herbert aided Pip when he first came to London and made the transition an easy one. Herbert helped filled in the blanks for Pip when he was lost. Herbert saved Pip’s life when Orlick tried to kill him. When Pip needed someone to turn to Herbert was always there. In return of Herbert’s friendship Pip also helped him. Pip used the money he was getting from Magwitch to finance Herbert dream of becoming a business owner. This was a true friendship that did not falter throughout the novel. Friendship is one of the few good characteristics that Dickens indicates throughout the novel.
Dickens goes beyond the bond of friendship to the bond of love. Herbert was not the only person that assisted Pip. Joe was another component to Pip’s success. Joe had deeper feelings then friendship towards Pip. Joe loved Pip like they were brothers. Joe was a simple, honest, hardworking man. Joe was a model of the man everyone should try to be. Joe was there in the beginning for Pip when he was getting picked on by Tickler or being “brought up by hand” by Mrs. Joe. Although Pip turned his back against Joe he was there in the shadows. Joe as simple as he was knew that Pip was leaving him behind. “Not wishing to intrude I have departed fur you are well again dear Pip and will do better without.” (Dickens 439) Joe knew that he would only be holding Pip back he felt like he was a burden to Pip. Joe was following the notion if you love something you should set it free. Even though Joe didn’t have much he paid Pip’s debts because of his unconditional love for Pip. Joe tried his best to protect Pip and not to bother him. This unconditional love that Joe employed over Pip became essential for Pips growth.
Another good human characteristic that Dickens expresses is generosity. This came from the most unlikely person, Magwitch. Magwitch help Pip like a father type would. Magwitch is one of the characters that play a role of a parent. “Look’ee here, Pip. I’m your second father. You’re my son—more to me nor any son. I’ve put away money, only for you to spend.” (Dickens 329) Magwitch had the same love for Pip as Joe did. Magwitch did not care about his money, but instead he cared about Pip’s happiness and his dream. Magwitch was a convicted criminal that made Pip dreams come true. Although he was a convict he was morally good. He did everything he could to help Pip become the man he is at the end of the novel. “Lord strike me dead!’ I says each time—and I goes out in the open air to say it under the open heavens—‘but wot, if I gets liberty and money, I’ll make that boy a gentleman!’ And I done it.” (Dickens 351) Magwitch was the secret benefactor that was founding Pip’s journey. The generosity that Pip showed Magwitch left such impact he swore that he would repay Pips generosity. One act of random kindness change Pip’s life forever. Magwitch generosity towards Pip went far beyond the generosity that Pip showed him. Magwitch generosity did not go unnoticed by Pip though. Near the end of the novel Pip return the generosity by helping Magwitch. Dickens did not only show the positives of human nature, but also the negatives.
One of the negative characteristics that Dickens looked at was cruelty. “Dickens believed the darkest facet of human nature was cruelty. He created many characters who...