Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

The novel Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens and is about a young boy, Pip who falls in love with a young girl, Estella and inherits money in order for him to go to London to learn how to become a gentleman. Pip has many various reasons for wanting to go to London and Dickens uses powerful imagery to show how Pip is easily disappointed upon his arrival to London. Great Expectations is about Pip looking back on his life which means that this is a 1st Person novel. In Great Expectations Pip wants to go to London because of a number of reasons dating back to his childhood.

He felt threatened by the convicts that he had met at the graveyard. ‘You get me a file and you get me wittles… or I’ll have your heart and liver out’. He is being terrorised by one of the convicts and forced to steal from his own family which makes him into a thief and a liar. Because he his made to feel a thief and a liar this is one of the reasons Pip wants to go to London to become a gentleman. This is also a threat of cannibalism towards Pip which is another reason he wants to go to London, which is because he feels threatened and is terrified by the convicts.

Another reason why Pip wants to go to London is because by going to Miss Havishams he has been shown a different lifestyle which is one that he would want. This makes Pip want to go to London so he can lead a lifestyle similar to the ones of Miss Havisham and Estella. Miss Havisham is another cause of Pip wanting to go to London because Pip describes Miss Havisham as ‘waxwork’ which show that he believes she is perfect. This makes him determined to go to London so he can become a gentleman and become waxwork-like as Miss Havisham is.

Pip wants to go to London because he loves Estella and by becoming a gentleman he believes that Estella may start to like him. ‘He calls the knaves, jacks, this boy… and what coarse hands he has’ makes Pip feel poor and like a commoner. By going to London Pip believes this will help him win Estella. Throughout Pips early life he was brought up by hand from his sister, Mrs Joe. This makes Pip want to go to London so he can live a life without being abused and violently mistreated.

By becoming a gentleman he will not have to be brought up by hand any more so this gives Pip a reason to go to London. The threats of cannibalism by the convict links to Estella ripping Pips heart out in a different way and because she can do this it gives the impression that she is more powerful, wealthy and a better class than Pip which makes him want to become a gentleman so that he can be a better class person than he believes he is. Pip wants to go London so that he can gain respect from Estella and be referred to as a gentleman rather than ‘boy’ and he is often referred to.

Uncle Pumblechook aims a threat of cannibalism towards Pip when he says that ‘If you’d have been born a pig you would have been butchered and had you heart torn out’ links to the convicts threats which makes Pip want to go to London as he feels threatened by Uncle Pumblechooks’ comments. This also makes Pip want to go to London as he does not want to be likened to a pig because they are common creatures with a sense of dirtiness around them. This makes Pip feel like a filthy person and makes him want to go London so that he can change this.

Another reason for Pip wanting to go to London is the fact that he wants to impress Estella and by being well educated and having better clothes he believes that he can do that. Pip becomes ashamed of living with Joe and his profession and lies to Joe and Mrs Joe after the first visit to Miss Havishams’ house. ‘She was sitting in a black velvet coach and ‘we all had cake and wine on gold plates’ shows that Pip is exaggerating and making this up because he is ashamed to tell Joe and Mrs Joe of how he was offended and made to feel ashamed of all the things around him.

Pip inherits some money which directs him to London. Because of the money Pip has inherited he becomes snobbish and classes himself a better quality than the ‘poor’ people living in his area. ‘As I passed the church, I felt a sublime compassion for the poor creatures’. This shows that Pip is being snobbish and seeing himself better than the people he has grown up all his life with. This makes him want to go to London so he can get away from the people he sees as poor. When Pip finally arrives in London we see that his expectations are easily disappointed.

Upon arrival he goes to visit Mr Jaggers, a lawyer in London and his lawyer, and Dickens describes Jaggers room using negative imagery. By doing this the reader can see how Pips expectations are instantly disappointed and that London is a corrupt and vile place to be in. ‘Mr Jaggers’ room was lighted by a skylight only’ is a good use of imagery by Dickens because it gives the impression of a lack of light which could lead to corruption in the legal system or corruption in London in general. Dickens uses a simile in Chapter 20 which shows how the characters all are in Great Expectations.

Like a broken head’ links to various characters such as Mrs Joe who has a broken head because she is paralysed and to other characters such as Estella who is being controlled by Miss Havisham and Pip who doesn’t know what to do in his life. ‘Old rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard’ shows the death of Pips expectations and how they are instantly disappointed because swords and pistols are pieces of equipment linked to death so could be the sign of the death of Pips expectations. Another piece of imagery used to show the death of Pips expectations is ‘deadly black horsehair… ike a coffin’ which could show the death of Pips expectations because coffins are associated with funerals and this is a ceremony of death.

The ‘deadly black’ creates the impression of darkness in London which shows how Pips expectations are disappointed straight away. In Chapter 21 Dickens uses sarcasm by using the word ‘haven’ to describe a part of London. This is ironic because it is not a haven at all so creates the impression that Pip is disappointed of London. Dickens uses many words and phrases to create the impression that Pip is easily disappointed and his expectations have been killed off.

Disgorged’ is an unpleasant word and links to the unpleasantness of London in general and how Pip has become disappointed with London. A repetition of the word ‘dismal’ shows the reader how dull a place London is and how Pips expectations have faded away. The repetition adds the effect that shows how terrible London really is. ‘Dilapidated’ means broken down and represents Pips expectations and how they are broken down and the idea that London is a mess and is broken down also. Pips expectations have been killed off and to show this Dickens uses a harsh alliteration of ‘C’ by using the words ‘crippled’ and ‘cracked’.

The harsh alliteration suggests to the reader that Pips expectations have crashed down and are over. ‘Dusty decay’ is used by Dickens in Chapter 21 to create the alliterative effect of the ‘D’ portraying the dirtiness of London and this dirt has caused Pip to be instantly disappointed with London. In Chapter 21 there is a link to the graveyard. ‘Unholy interment in the gravel’ links to the graveyard and graveyards are associated with death. Because of this link London could now be a link to the death of Pips expectations. Dickens shows the death of Pips expectations once more in Chapter 21 with the words ‘ashes, soot and smoke’.

These are images linked to cremation and give the idea that Pips expectations have been burnt away. ‘Dry-rot, wet-rot, silent rots that rot’. This is a repetition of rot and is a good use of imagery by Dickens because it leaves the reader with the impression that Pips expectations are rotting away. The stench of London is ironically compared to a medicine by Pip in Chapter 21. ‘Try Barnard’s Mixture’ links to the idea that what Pip thought would be so good turned out to so grim. This shows how Pip is easily disappointed with London. Oppressed and exhausted’ are words used by Dickens to show the reader how London is not what it is expressed as and that Pip has had enough of London and his expectations are dead. Pip has been corrupted by money and has turned into a snob. ‘Dust’ and ‘grit’ are a symbol of the dirt in London and that has stuck to Pip and made him a snob and now a bad person.

Even when in London Pip is still thinking about Estella because he is in love with her. ‘Could not bear the two casts on the shelf’ represents Pip and Estella and show their potential together has been killed. Shameful’ is a descriptive word used to show how Pip feels about London and how his expectations are dead and also his impression of London has been instantly disappointed. An alliteration of ‘F’s’ by Dickens makes London sound dirty and a bad, corrupt place. ‘Filth and fat and foam’ is alliteration and gives the reader the sense of dirtiness. ‘Bulging’ is an unpleasant word used to describe London and links to the convict jumping out on Pip at the graveyard which by being reminded of the convict makes him still feel like a thief and liar.

London is also shows to have a lack of morality by Dickens. ‘Smelling strongly of spirits and beer’ shows a lack of morality and the death of Pips expectations because spirits and beer are seen as bad items. ‘Stone building’ could be a tombstone which shows a death of Pips expectations. In conclusion I can tell that the Pips expectations were dead from the start of the story because the scene was set in a graveyard, which is an image and place linked with death, so it shows that Pip never had any expectation to begin with and if so they were killed right at the start of the story.

Also I can see that the only gentleman in the story is Joe because he never looks down on anybody and is always grateful for what he has in life whereas Pip becomes a snob as soon as he gets money and Mr Jaggers is a corrupt character. Mr Jaggers is part of the corrupt society in London that will do anything fort money such as getting people to escape a prison sentence when they have committed murder, which is not gentleman-like. Uncle Pumblechook is not a true gentleman because he looks down on Pip which Joe doesn’t.

Old Orlick paralysed Mrs Joe which is not what a gentleman would do. Because of this Joe is the only real gentleman in the story. I can see that Joe is the only true gentleman in the novel because he shows compassion to the convict which many other people wouldn’t do. ‘We wouldn’t want you to starve to death’ shows that he is a gentleman because he could have judged the convict straight away but because he didn’t know him he didn’t feel he was in the position to judge which proves he is a gentleman because he gets along with everybody.

Another incident which shows that Joe is the only true gentleman is when he offers Pip gravy at the dinner table. This shows tenderness towards other people and he did this because of Pip being mistreated. This makes him gentleman because it shows he cares for people no matter what happens. In conclusion I can see that the Dickens use the title for irony because Pip never had any expectations. Also by starting the novel in a graveyard this shows that Pips expectations were killed off straight away as graveyards are images of death.