Great Expectations

Unexpected Expectations: Pip Becomes a Different Kind of Gentleman in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations

In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens presents a social commentary that dramatizes the role Victorian society plays in shaping the lives of its members. In particular, the novel addresses how society shapes the definition of the gentleman and, more specifically, how it shapes PipÃÂÂs desire to become a gentleman. Dickens intends the novel to be more than simply the story of PipÃÂÂs expectations; he also intends it to deliver a message about the expectations of society as a whole. Through the behaviors of various characters in the novel, Dickens delivers his satire on the values of society. He purposely sets up the heroic characters as the ones who are basically unconcerned with the demands of society, thereby reinforcing his mistrust of societyÃÂÂs values. Joe is the most admirable character in the novel because he is more concerned with humanistic matters than with social ones; he places more importance on his meaningful relationships with others than on social advancement. By the end of the novel, Pip arrives at the conclusion that societyÃÂÂs requirements of a gentleman are not necessarily indicative of true gentlemanliness. He realizes the detrimental effects of his ambition on his life and on his relationship with Joe,...

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