Pip’s story—the story of the novel—traces his development through the events of his early life; his narration, however, written years after the end of the story, is a product of his character as it exists after the events of the story. Pip’s narration thus reveals the psychological endpoint of his development in the novel. Pip’s behavior as a character often reveals only part of the story—he treats Joe coldly, for instance—while his manner as a narrator completes that story: his guilt for his poor behavior toward his loved ones endures, even as he writes about his early life years later. Of course, Dickens manipulates Pip’s narration in order to evoke its subjects effectively: Pip’s childhood is narrated in a much more childlike voice than his adult years, even though the narrator Pip presumably writes both parts of the story at a single later date. Dickens also uses Pip’s narration to reinforce particular aspects of his character that emerge in the course of the novel: we know from his actions that Pip is somewhat self-centered but sympathetic at heart to others; Pip’s later narration of his relationships with others tends to reflect those qualities. When Magwitch reveals that he is Pip’s benefactor, for instance, Pip is disgusted by the convict and describes him solely in negative terms; as his affection for Magwitch grows, the descriptive terms he chooses to apply to the convict become much more positive. 2.
What role does social class play in Great Expectations? What lessons does Pip learn from his experience as a wealthy gentleman? How is the theme of social class central to the novel?
One way to see Pip’s development, and the development of many of the other characters in Great Expectations, is as an attempt to learn to value other human beings: Pip must learn to value Joe and Magwitch, Estella must learn to value Pip, and so on. Throughout the novel, social class provides an arbitrary, external standard of value by which the characters (particularly...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document