Great Expectations - Charles Dickens: Part 1
Throughout these early scenes it is clear that there is a feeling of evil pervading. The evil comes not so much from Magwitch or even the ‘Terrible young man’ that Pip so fears as a young lad, but rather the presence of the gibbet and the nearby reference to the ‘hulks that appear “like a wicked Noah’s Ark.” It is a symbol of evil that is presently at hand as well as foreshadowing future ills. In this chapter we can see that the presence of the soldiers makes Pip ill at ease because of the guilt that he feels at aiding and abetting the escapees. He fears that they will tell of his collusion if they are captured. We know that it is their own quarrel that brings their escape to grief. We are told that they came from different class groups. The fierce young man is supposedly a ‘gentleman.’ This brings into doubt the definition of this term. This is important as Dickens is most concerned in his work with defining the class groups and in fact the true definition of a gentleman. The evil of the convicts is contrasted with the sympathy that both Pip and Joe feel for them. Joe is particularly selfless in his forgiveness towards Magwitch upon his admission of stealing from their household. Pip on the other hand allows this deception to pass as it favours his position. “I was too cowardly to do what I knew to be right, as I had been too cowardly to avoid doing what I knew to be wrong.” His guilt is intense and this isn’t lessened by the forces around him that would condemn him and subdue him prejudicially for being young, fatherless and vulnerable. These forces ironically seem to come from his own parish and family. Joe, who is ironically not blood related is the one that he wants to impress the most and theone who he fears alienating by telling the truth. The irony is that Joe has already displayed tangible signs of being able to forgive anybody for anything on humanitarian grounds e.g. Magwitch. Magwitch himself has done a noble act in his confession. This is in contast to Pip’s cowardly secrecy.
Pip lacks education. This is remedied by Pip’s being sent to Mr. Wopsle’s great aunt. Unfortunately she tends to sleep through these lessons. Fortunately, though, Pip learns to read through the assistance of Biddy, the granddaughter of this lady. Pip, who is apprenticed to Joe displays a very disturbing quality during this chapter that is to affect his development and the responder’s opinion of him, that being snobbery. He ostentatiously offers to tutor Joe who is illiterate, but changes when Joe tells his story of how he met Mrs Joe and how he had cared for Pip. Joe goes further to show his magnanimous affection for all humanity as well as Pip: “I wish there warn’t no Tickler for you, old chap; I wish I could take it all on myself,” He also looks at the frost on the marshes and pities all those that might be caught up in it. Pip is invited through Uncle Pumblechook to visit a rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal house, Miss Havisham looms large as life at the end of this chapter.
Pip breakfast for his uncle before heading to Satis house. ‘Satis’ refers symbolically to the irony of being satisfied. In contrast to the name of this Manor House there is nothing that is satisfied. When Pip arrives he is greeted by a young girl who comes across the courtyard to give Pip entry and usher him through the grim house by candlelight. Her name is Estella and she seems like a shining star to Pip although ironically her spurning of Pip seems to remove much of her luster to the responder. When we are introduced to Miss Havisham she appears as a weird and shrunken lady who seems surreal and almost lifeless. Her watch and the clock remain at twenty minutes to nine. This is the time that her life stopped and she began to decay metaphorically and literally. She tells Pip that her heart is broken and then orders him to play. Pip is unable to satisfy...
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