Excerpt 1 -
"For, though it includes what I proceed to add, all the merit of what I proceed to add was Joe's. It was not because I was faithful, but because Joe was faithful, that I never ran away and went for a soldier or a sailor. It was not because I had a strong sense of the virtue of industry, but because Joe had a strong sense of the virtue of industry, that I worked with tolerable zeal against the grain. It is not possible to know how far the influence of any amiable honest-hearted duty-doing man flies out into the world; but it is very possible to know how it has touched one's self in going by, and I know right well, that any good that intermixed itself with my apprenticeship came of plain contented Joe, and not of restlessly aspiring discontented me" (108).
Analysis: In this scene, Pip reflects back on his apprenticeship with Joe in which he painstakingly learned the trade of blacksmith. Although Pip despised the labor, he kept his frustrations to himself out of respect and admiration of Joe's goodness. Looking back on that time, the elder narrator Pip understands that his ability to remain with Joe and tolerate his lessons was not attributed to his own inherent faith, but rather due to Joe's faith. The elder, more wise Pip, understands years later that any good qualities he may have possessed resulted directly by the virtuous example he had in Joe. And it was because Joe was so kind and honest with Pip that he was able to work "against the grain," as he refers to his stress and anger. He marvels at Joe's ability to diligently pursue his monotonous work, and asserts that Joe had an influence on his own life that far transcended the art of a black smith. He learned life lessons from Joe that ultimately allowed Pip to see the errors of his ways and understand the true definition of a righteous character. Pip attributes none of his personal goodness to his own devices or efforts, but rather allots all the credit to Joe and his steady teachings.
Excerpt 2 -
“My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip" (3).
Analysis: This is the opening of the novel. While it appears to just be creating an adorable anecdote to introduce the character Pip, Dickens is personifying Pip. His life is cast upon him just as his name is: it just happens. He can’t pronounce his name, so he goes by Pip. He gets a benefactor who helps him become a gentleman and he goes with it. Furthermore, the name fits him. In a world where class is everything, and a person’s name and title are what give them their class, the name “Pip” does not get one too far. But again, things just sort of happen for Pip. Finally, Dickens captures somewhat of a mirror effect with the name that foreshadows the structure of Pip’s life. With the exception of the “h” in Philip, Pip’s names are all palindromes, and like palindromes, the back end of Pip’s life returns to the same form as the beginning. While his love and respect for Joe dissipate toward the middle of the novel, they return once more in the end. Pip’s name even changes in the book to the more enriched “Handel” or even “Mr. Pip”, however “Pip” reemerges again later in the novel (Not to mention the mirroring of character that Pip sees in Joe Gargery’s son who is also named Pip). Even the plot shows this characteristic in the end when Pip, once more, returns to the Satis House, and is reunited with Estella. Within the first few sentences, not only does Dickens characterize Pip, but also delivers the expectations for the novel.
Excerpt 3 -
"I took the opportunity of being alone in the court-yard, to look at my coarse hands and my common boots. My opinion of those accessories was not favourable. They had never troubled me before, but they troubled me now, as vulgar appendages. I determined to ask Joe why he had ever taught me to call those picture-cards, Jacks, which ought to be called knaves. I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too" (62).
Analysis: This passage is said by Pip, who was just on his way out of Miss. Havisham's house for the first time. Pip, who was playing cards with Miss. Havisham and Estella, says Jacks instead of knaves and is made fun of by Estella for it. Pip takes Estella's taunting of his "lingo," thick boots, and coarse hands to heart and starts to depreciate his low social/working status. After finally leaving the Havisham house, Pip cries all the way home ashamed of his poor, sensitive upbringing and his lack of knowledge which he blames on Joe and Mrs. Joe. Although this moment of shows Pip's vulnerability, it highlights Pip's initial phase of his fanatic desire to become a "gentleman" through wealth and education.
Excerpt 4 -
"So subdued I was by those tears, and by their breaking out againin the course of the quiet walk, that when I was on the coach, and it was clear of the town, I deliberated with an aching heart whether would not get down when we changed horses, and walk back, and have another evening at home, and a better parting. We changed, and I had not made up my mind, and still reflected for my comfort that it would be quite practicable to get down and walk back, when we changed again”(160).
Analysis: This takes place right at the end of Vol. 1 of Great Expectations. Pip is on his way to London, where he hopes to become a gentleman. His longing to return home, if even for just one more night, is derived from the guilt he feels for how he said goodbye to Joe Gargery, his father figure, caretaker, and closest friend. However, he does not. Time and time again Pip sees opportunities to return, but every time, he refuses to get off the coach. This is very indicative of his character throughout the majority of the novel. Pip never seems to take control of his life, yet he seems to always know that he has options, and for the most part, which option is morally right. However, he his is blinded by his goal to become a gentleman, and goes in that direction regardless of how he feels emotionally.
Excerpt 5 -
"When I was a hired-out shepherd in a solitary hut, not seeing no faces but faces of sheep till I half forgot wot men’s and women’s faces wos like, I see yourn…’but wot, if I gets liberty and money, I’ll make that boy a gentleman!’ and I done it.” (317).
Analysis: This passage occurs towards the end of the novel when Magwitch having returned to London from his isolation in Australia, confronts Pip as a mad stranger taking Pip’s hands onto his own and kissing them. Magwitch then drills Pip with questions concerning how he had done so well while dropping hints about details of Pip’s life that no stranger would know. Finally Magwitch reveals to Pip that SPOILER ALERT! he had been his benefactor all along.The significance of this passage is that (as the novel exclaims) it marks “THE END OF THE SECOND STAGE OF PIP'S EXPECTATIONS” (325).
Excerpt 6 -
"For now my repugnance to him had all melted away, and in the hunted wounded shackled creature who held my hand in his, I only saw a man who had meant to be my benefactor, and who had felt affectionately, gratefully, and generously towards me with great constancy through a series of years. I only saw in him a much better man than I had been to Joe" (319).
Analysis: This passage occurs shortly after the “end of the second stage of Pip’s expectations.” This moment of the novel illustrates Pip's shifting self awareness as he realizes how his actions had hurt Joe and how in many ways Magwitch had been a more noble character than himself.
Unless otherwise noted, all textual excerpts refer to: Great Expectations. London: Penguin Classics, 1996. Print.