Ambition and Self-Improvement

Topics: Great Expectations, Social class, Miss Havisham Pages: 3 (1051 words) Published: December 5, 2004
All great novels have major themes on which the plot is based on, and Charles Dickens' Great Expectations, is no different. One of the major themes in this novel is ambition and self-improvement. Dickens uses this as a universal idea for his novel, and from this theme he gets his title of Great Expectations. Another major theme in the novel is social class. Dickens uses the theme of social class to feed into his theme of ambition and self-improvement. With both ambition and self-improvement Pip is able to become a gentleman. Pip, from the lower class, has the longing to be with Estella, an upper-class well breed girl. He realizes that he has to become a gentleman if he wants respect and love from Estella. To become rich he needs ambition and to be accepted in the upper-class he needs self-improvement. He is able to accomplish this goal by being persistent. Dickens uses these two themes to make Pip in to a overall better person.

Pip's desire to be with Estella, makes him want to be of the higher social class. Before his meeting with Estella at the Satis House he was perfectly satisfied with who and what he was. After his first visit to the Satis House his opinion totally changes. After his first visit to the Satis house Pip says, "I took the opportunity of being alone in the court-yard, to look at my coarse hands and my common boots. My opinion of these accessories was not favorable. They had never troubled me before, but they troubled me now, as vulgar appendages."(GE, p.62). The humiliation and the horrible treatment of Pip makes Pip realize that he is member of the lower class. Meeting Estella makes him desperate to be her social equal. Estella disrespects him and treats him like he is her servant, which in turn promotes Pip to become more of a gentleman. A gentleman is made by his social status or class: this is measured in terms of his understanding of rules of social etiquette, habits of dress and speech and the standing of his family. When Pip first...
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