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How successful do you think Pip is in his quest to become a gentleman? What does Pip learn from his adventures? To determine how successful Pip is as a gentleman, we must firstly define what a gentleman is. A gentleman can either be socially successful, or morally successful.
During his expectations, Pip changes and does many things that make him successful, and others that make him less successful as a gentleman, both morally and socially. Pip’s Expectations are started when he first meets Estella, the adopted daughter of Miss Havisham when Pip is a young boy. He immediately becomes attracted to Estella’s charms and good looks.
She does not return this admiration; she calls Pip ‘coarse and common’. In Chapter Seventeen, Pip tells Biddy that he wants to become a gentleman for Estella’s sake.
His expectations here are not primarily social, they are romantic. As Pip’s motives for being a gentleman are romance, rather than social or moral standings, we can see that to start with, Pip has got his priorities wrong, which later on will not help him to be successful Before Pip leaves his hometown, he has already become a bit of a snob; he already looks down at Joe for the way he acts, Pip tells Biddy ‘Joe is rather backward in some things’ (Chapter Nineteen).
Biddy does not feel that Pip is a gentleman, she feels that ‘a gentleman should not be unjust’, and she feels that Pip is unjust, so not a proper gentleman. Pip is treated differently before he leaves for London, Pumblechook, Trabb and other middle class residents of the town now refer to him as ‘sir’. This contributes to him becoming a snob. He feels he has power and is better than other people, and as a result he is less successful as a gentleman, as he is being immoral. When Pip arrives at London, he discovers a ‘rather ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty’ city. He describes Smithfield as the ‘shameful place … seemed to stick to me’ (Chapter Twenty).
He imagined a much grander place, the disappointment of finding what he did find made him want to get out of Smithfield as soon as possible, his snobbery shows, he only wants to be in the better areas of the city. Pip lives with his tutor, Matthew Pocket and his family in London. He spends a lot of time with Herbert Pocket, the son of his tutor. Herbert influences Pip immensely; he quotes his father’s view of a gentleman, ‘No man who was not a true gentleman at heart, ever was, since the world began, a true gentleman in manner’ (Chapter Twenty-two).
This is the Pocket’s view of what a gentleman is, and as Pip is a gentleman in manner, by their view he is in heart. Pip becomes more successful as a gentleman in London as Herbert teaches him new manners and how to act like a gentleman. He teaches him subtly, so as not to embarrass Pip. Originally, Pip was very bad mannered; in Chapter Nineteen when he first had his expectations, he pulled up grass and tore his hair. But thanks to Herbert, he is now well mannered, making him more of a gentleman socially.
Pip now also speaks proper English; he uses quite complex words and pronounces them correctly, such as ‘Memorandum’ (Chapter Thirty Four). Like manners, this is important for a gentleman to have, so this makes Pip more successful as a gentleman. Although Pip is better mannered and speaks better English, he is now perhaps more of a snob, as now he feels that he is a proper gentleman, so looks down on others Pip used to work as Joe’s apprentice in the forge full time, but since then has not worked for one day, other than trying to be a gentleman.
Compared to Joe, who has worked all of his life for his family, Pip has not done much, so this makes him less of a gentleman morally. Another student with Mr. Pocket is Bentley Drummle. He is a ‘next heir, but one’ to a title. Pip is jealous of Drummle after he marries Estella; he already detests him before the marriage as he feels that he is an arrogant snob. Drummle is an evil character, who when compared to Pip, makes Pip look like a very successful gentleman morally. Mrs. Pocket is fascinated by titles and is also a snob. She feels honoured to have Drummle with the Pockets.
She doesn’t respect Pip as much because of this, this slightly infuriates Pip and leads to his jealousy. He is less respected than Drummle, so is less of a gentleman than Drummle socially. Pip lives in Barnard’s Inn; this is not a very nice area of London; it is all he can afford, and when Joe visits him even he is unimpressed by Pip’s apartment. The fact that Pip lives in a very undesirable place shows that he is not very wealthy, and therefore not very successful as a gentleman. He still remains a snob despite living in such a humble place.
When Pip first saw his lodgings, they disappointed him as he described them as a ‘rank corner’. He was unsatisfied by an apartment which one week ago would have exceeded his hopes. This shows how his expectations are growing, (also at the same the rate as his snobbery). Although Pip is becoming a snob, he still visits Wemmick, an employee of Mr Jaggers. He admires Wemmick for his home and his care of his ‘aged parent’ (Chapter Twenty Five). This is one of the first times that Pip has admired someone who is of the middle class, (He has also admired Joe who is of the lower class and perhaps also Pumblechook).
Pip visits Wemmick’s ‘castle’ quite often, showing that he is not entirely a snob, meaning that he can be successful as a gentleman. Pip’s snobbery increases in London; soon after he arrives, he starts to notice faults in people, e. g. Mrs Pocket and Bentley Drummle. Joe comes to pay him a visit, which is very worrying for Pip, he comments upon ‘our worst weaknesses and meannesses’ (Chapter Twenty Six). The visit shows that Pip is a snob – Pip is afraid that Joe will embarrass him; he doesn’t want Herbert to meet Joe.
When Joe arrives, he addresses Pip as ‘sir’, Pip does not stop him from calling him this, as he feels that he is Joe’s better. Joe leaves after a very short visit; Pip does not try and stop him from leaving, as he does not want him to stay. ‘If I could have kept him away by paying money, I would have paid money’ (Chapter Twenty-Seven). Pip is rude and annoyed by the visit of a man who years before was his only friend, and the man that was Pip’s ri? le model when growing up. As Pip’s snobbery increases, he becomes less of a gentleman morally. Pip has unease after Joe’s visit, he is not sure of his identity.
He feels that he is a gentleman, but cannot identify with himself more than this. Pip’s unease is due to Joe’s visit and other problems that arise from his past. Pip not being able to identify with himself makes him less confident and less successful as a gentleman. Pip may not necessarily consider himself a gentleman all of the time, and when he pays a visit to Estella at Satis house in Chapter Twenty-Nine, he feels that he has started to ‘slip hopelessly back into the coarse and common boy again’. This is due to love, so when Pip is not vexed with Estella, he may be a gentleman again.