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Sarah Fakhouri
Ms. Gardner
English 10 Honors Period 1
11 March 2014
Social Status
Great Expectations, a coming-of-age novel by Charles Dickens revolves around the
theme of social class. Pipan orphan who comes from a working class familygrows up to
have the dream of becoming a wealthy gentleman. Being raised by his sister, Mrs. Joe and her
husband, Joe Gargery, who is a blacksmith, Pips only role model was Joe. When a beautiful girl
named Estella points out how common Pip is for being in a lower social class, he struggles to
accept himself and his position in life. To be wealthy, to be in a high class, and to be intelligent
is what Pip imagines a gentleman to be. Pip, the common laboring-boy, then rises in social class,
moving to London to live his dream of becoming a true gentleman to gain the love of Estella.
Through first-person narrative, Dickenss purpose is for the readers to understand the value of
the love from people who care for you, rather than leaving them for money.
Before having met Estella and fallen in love with her, Pip was accepting to the life he
had. He was not very attached to his sister because of her violent ways with him, but he was
proud of Joe. Joe was his role model and took the place of being a big brother to him. He never
even dreamt of being a gentleman and never knew what it took to be one. With this boy! Why,
he is a common laboring-boy! (Dickens 58) After Estella criticized Pip for being a common
laboring-boy, Pip knew that if he wanted a beautiful, wealthy girl like Estella, he had to change
his life and ambition. Being so young, Pip was confused by what she had said of him and then
had a different goal of where he wanted to be in the future and with whom.
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After making his transition into a higher social class and living in London, Pip forgot
what it meant to have feelings and to be sure of himself. Pip was now a gentleman: he was
wealthy and intelligent, but his self-esteem was just decreasing as his social status increased.
Well, sir, pursued Joe, this is how it were. I were at the Bargemen tother night, Pip
whenever he subsided into affection, he called me Pip, and whenever he relapsed into politeness
he called me sir (222) Pip was different to his loved ones. He stopped associating with Joe
because he felt embarrassed of him now and left Biddy to improve himself for Estella. Pips
relationship with Joe is not as strong as it was before and Joe is also treating him differently by
calling Pip sir instead of Pip. This indicates that Pips social status is intimidating to his
loved ones and he knows that things are different between them from now on.
Because of the close relationship between Pip and Joe and how that changed because of
Pips newfound wealth, Pip acts differently towards Joe. Joe realizes that Pip is ashamed of him
because of his job as a blacksmith and realizes that Pips understanding of what a gentleman is is
not accurate. and one mans a blacksmith, and ones a whitesmith, and ones a goldsmith,
and ones a coppersmith. (223) Joe obviously knows that his job is not the most profitable, but
he enjoys doing what he does. In his thoughts, Joe sees a gentleman as being a respectful and
polite man, no matter how much money you have. Someone could be a blacksmith or a
whitesmith, but it would not make them any less of a person. Pip does not realize the true
meaning of a gentleman and what it takes to be one until the end of the novel, which may be too
late.
Once Pip was exposed to such criticism by Estella, he starts to look at himself and his
appearance from a different point of view. He looks at himself from the point of view as
someone who is wealthy and sees himself as a boy with common roots who wears common
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clothes. I took the opportunity of being alone in the court-yard to look at my coarse hands and
my common boots. (60) The embarrassment Pip has of himself to have to be alone to analyze
how he looks is sickening. The society Pip has been put through and the society today is similar
because everyone is judged. People judge each other for how they look, what they wear, and how
they act, which is exactly what Pip has been forced upon. At this point, the only thing going
through Pips mind is how he can be wealthy and gain pride back in himself, no matter what that
is.
Dickens actually teaches the readers a lesson by letting them know that money, no matter
how much, will never be worth abandoning your family. This is taught by having Pip realize this
at the end of the book. Leaving his family to become a gentleman for Estella, a girl he did not
know well, taught him the true meaning of having your loved ones in your life. Although Pip
struggled to become a gentleman, he never did. He did become wealthy, but his confidence
decreased as his money and social class increased. Estellas beauty tricked Pip into thinking she
would give her love to a gentleman, but in reality, she had no love to give to anyone.


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