Tuesday, October 4, 2011


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Two different types of gentleman are presented to the reader throughout Great Expectations. The first is Pips earlier definition, where he finds a gentleman to be someone with wealth, breeding, education, and social status. This materialistic definition of a gentleman is exactly like the description of Bentley Drummle, who, however is obviously not a gentleman in behaviour or manners - ...he was idle, proud, niggardly, reserved and suspicious. He came of rich people ... who had nursed this combination of qualities until they made the discovery that it was just of age and a blockhead. One of the aspects of being gentlemanly to Pip was education. When he originally arrived in London, he was completely ignorant of common etiquette and practise in company, and the way of doing things that was assumed right - He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy! says Estella - Pip immediately begins to regret his background, and assumes that as Estella says the knaves are not Jacks, this is the truth, whereas in reality this is just a socially discriminate term. Herbert helps to teach Pip the right way to do things - he remains very polite, and the pale young gentleman goes out of his way not to embarrass Pip whilst he corrects his social misdemeanours - ...in London it is not the custom to put the knife in the mouth - for fear of accidents - and that while the fork is reserved for that use, it is not put in further than necessary...Also, the spoon is not generally used over-hand, but under... He offered these friendly suggestions in such a lively way, that we both laughed and I scarcely blushed. Another aspect of ungentlemanly behaviour offered in the novel is bad manners. Mr. Jaggers, a well-to-do gentleman from London, offers Joe, a country blacksmith, money for taking Pip off of his hands. This offends Joe deeply, so much that he almost hits Mr. Jaggers - Which I meantersay...that if you come into my place bull-baiting and badgering me, come out!. Joe only wishes for Pips welfare, and cannot believe that money would go any way to compensate for the loss of Pip. Jaggers makes assumptions about Joe and Joes values just because he is of a poorer and lower class than he. The contrast between the stereotypical view of a gentleman - Mr. Jaggers and Joe is so strong that you can easily see which of them comes out of this situation as more of a gentleman - Joe. The exterior vision of a gentleman becomes very important to Pip in the earlier stages of the novel - the clothes and general appearance of his surroundings obsess him to such a point that he appoints the Avenger to serve on him. The Avenger, though expensively dressed, seems to be absolutely ridiculous - dressed in a canary yellow waistcoat. To him, gentlemen deserve respect, and once Pip becomes a gentleman, this appears to happen - he is treated respectfully by Trabb when he goes to buy his clothes, when previously he wasnt given a second glance. However, there is a slight flaw to this image in the shape of Trabbs boy and the Avenger himself. Both offer him as much respect as he deserved - and at this point in the novel, he deserves none. Ironically, one of Pips chief detractors, Trabbs boy, becomes the instrument through which Pip is saved from Orlick later on in the novel. Herbert, one of the benchmarks of a true gentleman in the novel, is always regarded as a gentleman by Pip. At first, it was because of his class and manners and the fact that he knew the rules of fighting. However, Pips perception of Herbert begins to shift throughout the novel. Firstly, he is mildly amused by the way that the pale young gentleman gets up every time that Pip knocks him down and carries on fighting, but the reader begins to notice this is actually an integral part of Herberts character - he is buoyant and optimistic to the very end. It also emerges as the novel progresses that Pip is leading Herbert astray rather - he encourages him to spend money, until they are both quite deeply in debt. This is revealed by Clara, Herberts fianc�e, after it she doesnt approve of him - The truth was, that she had objected to me as am expensive companion who did Herbert no good... The fact that Herbert has become such a gentleman seems all the more surprising when you meet his family - his mother especially, is rude, lazy and treats her children disinterestedly, whilst his aunts and uncles are all money-grabbing, gathering around Miss Havisham to attempt to get into her good books. Herberts overwhelming politeness and patience is particularly contrasted to Pips increasing rudeness and bad behaviour when Joe comes to stay. Herbert treats Joe better than Pip himself treats Joe. Joe is extremely uncomfortable, and Pip does nothing to try to relieve his feelings, but Herbert is polite and courteous, and does his best to set Joes mind at ease. The way he treats Clara is truly good as well. She is caught looking after her father Gruffandgrim and he decides marry her to relieve her situation. However, the true point of reference for a true gentleman is Joe - although he possesses none of the materialistic appearances of a gentleman, he is very good in his hart and shows this through his actions. Throughout Great Expectations, he has angelic references made to him - O dear good faithful Joe, I feel the loving tremble of your hand upon my arm, as solemnly this day as if it had been the rustle of an angels wing. He is referred to as Pips ministering angel, and to those who know him, they respect him as a gentleman, especially Biddy, who regards him as a proud in his own way and in ...a place that he is competent to fill, and fills well and with respect. This seems like an ideal definition of a true gentleman - they strive to fill their place in society to the best of their ability. Also, through everyday conversation and actions, Joe is revealed to have an almost faultless character - he describes how badly his father had treated Joe and his mother, but instead of feeling angry, he feels pity for his father. He wants to be able to write a epitaph for him - Whatsumeer the failings on his part, Remember reader he were that good in his hart., completely forgiving him for the anguish he caused Joe and his mother. Joe also vowed to himself never to treat anyone as badly as he himself was treated - I see so much in my poor mother, of a woman drudging and slaving and breaking her honest hart and never getting no peace in her mortal days, that Im dead afeerd of going wrong in the way of not doing whats right by a woman... When Pip becomes ill, it is Joe that nurses him through his illness, when no-one else looks after Pip. Joe pays off Pips debt to the bailiffs, and he does not ask for thanks, in fact he doesnt even tell Pip. He leaves quietly without telling Pip, and Pip realises how badly he has treated Joe over the years O Joe, you break my heart! Look angry at me, Joe. Strike me, Joe. Tell me of my ingratitude. Dont be so good to me! The fact that Joe is meant to represent the true gentleman in the novel is enhanced by something Pip says - he calls Joe a Gentle, Christian, Man. As well as making reference to the religious way in which Joe is described, it also gets to the very root of the definition of a gentleman - someone who is polite and treats people well (gentle) and someone who observes the Christian views on how to treat people (Christian). The same comparisons can be created between the female characters in Great Expectations. Many of the same rules apply to being a lady as to being a gentleman, with one exception being chastity. Estella and Biddy are from two very different social spheres. Both are educated, but to different degrees - Biddy is self-taught, whilst Estella has had the best tutors available. Estella is rich, and the heiress to Miss Havishams large property, whilst Biddy has virtually nothing to her name. From all appearances, Estella is definitely the gentlewoman of the two, but this is worng. Estella is impolite, unkind, proud and behaves very badly towards Pip, a man that she knows would do anything for her He calls the knaves Jacks, this boy!...And what coarse hands he has. And what thick boots!... Her contempt was so strong that it became infectious, and I caught it. Biddy, however, always remains truthful and generally kind towards Pip. Pip describes her thus Biddy was never insulting, or capricious, or Biddy to-day and somebody else to-morrow; she would have derived only pain, and no pleasure, from giving me pain; she would far rather have wounded her own breast than mine. When he tells her about how Estella called him coarse and common Biddy replies It was neither a very true nor a very polite thing to say. This analytical outsiders view begins to bring home to the reader that Estella is in fact less of a gentlewoman than Biddy, and also brings them into direct contrast, by one commenting on the others behaviour in combination with the description of Biddy. It becomes obvious that Biddys view of a gentleman is very similar to that of Joes - she regards a gentleman as someone who is Towards the end of Great Expectations, Pip begins to make the transition himself. It is a gradual shift to start with, but contains hints towards his changing views and ideals. As the novel is written in hindsight, it is obvious that Pip has changed by the time he writes it - for example, after Biddy and he disagree about Joes being a gentleman, he talks about her showing the bad side of human nature. After, in the narrative he says I again warmly repeated that it was a bad side of human nature (in which sentiment, waiving its application, I have since seen reason to think I was right) This suggests that Pip is looking back on his own behaviour in hindsight and seeing that Biddy was in the right, not him. When Magwitch meets Pip, he says Yes, Pip, dear boy, Ive made a gentleman on you ... I tell it, fur you to know as that there hunted dunghill dog wot you kep life in, got his head so high that he could make a gentleman - and, Pip, youre him! Magwitchs view is that a gentleman can be made, and bought, very easily. He sees Pip in his fine house, with his fine clothes and etiquette, and believes that he has created a gentleman. He does this only in reaction to the way society has treated him, and wants to get revenge on they that made him leave the country, by proving that he, as well can create his own gentleman, and all you need is money. Throughout the novel there are many different views on a gentleman - Joe, Biddy, Pip and Magwitch all hold varying views on the subject. In the end however, Pip has turned into a true gentleman. He loses the lust for materialistic signs of his wealth and gentleman-hood. He feels true gratitude and penitence for his actions towards Joe and Biddy, and is happy for them both. He becomes selfless, and keeps his secret of his benefactory presence towards Herbert, deriving real pleasure from all that Herbert and Clara get out of Herberts job. He forgives Miss Havisham, although she has effectively almost ruined his life, and does not feel resentful towards Estella for all that she has put him through. Eventually, and, in my opinion, most importantly, he grows to love Magwitch, even at the point where his most un-gentlemanly ways seem at their pinnacle, and puts his own life in danger in a bid to save Magwitchs. 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