What Is Pip's Idea of a Gentleman?
Pip, the protagonist of Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations," moves from poverty to luxury when his benefactor, Abel Magwitch, determines to "make a gentleman--and, Pip, you're him!" However, Pip's idea of a gentleman evolves into something different from Magwitch's.
1 Gentlemen Need Money
Pip is made uncomfortable with his coarseness by Estella, Miss Havisham's ward--"he's a common, labouring boy," a remark which reminds Pip that gentlemen do not work. A second revelation comes through Jaggers; after Pip inherits, the stern lawyer becomes an affable moneylender. Money, Pip decides, makes people reasonable.
2 Gentlemen Are Malicious
Pip's gentlemanly ideas further evolve when he learns Bentley Drummle courts Estella; Pip denigrates Drummle's humble beginnings, forgetting his own. He criticizes Estella's choice, solidifying his position that gentlemen can be cruel.
3 Gentlemen Are Snobs
Pip's revelation comes when his friend Joe Gargery comes to visit; thoroughly uncomfortable, Joe muses "divisions among such must come" and departs. In selling out a loving friend for unloving society, Pip realizes he is a "snob" and that gentlemen commit the "worst meannesses . . . [for] people we despise."
4 The Circle Closes
Pip's idea of a gentleman evolves from something he desires to become into something he hates -- and has become.
- 1 Great Expectations; Charles Dickens