In some ways, Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations is a disappointing novel because its rags-to-riches story remains unfulfilled. The victory that Dickens secures in the novel however, is more important, as it captures the truth that fairytales are fantasy. Dickens gives Pip a chance to become more than he is, only to have him reverted back to the old Pip in order to covey a moral message about false expectations. Throughout the novel, Dickens makes a direct contrast between appearances and reality, through characterization and imagery, to illustrate the inevitable authority of reality over appearance.
Pip’s moral character undergoes many changes as he is given the chance to become what he believes is a gentleman. He picks up false values and goes along a path that appears to be noble but ends up ruining his character. He uses the money from his mysterious benefactor and indeed does make himself a “gentleman,” but is corrupted by it, becoming a snob who is ashamed of those who had taken care of him as a child.
Although Pip feels ashamed of his original position as a laborer with course hands, memories and connections to the forge continue to haunt him. These constant reminders illustrate the dominance of Pip’s true identity over his aspirations. For example, Magwitch, the convict he once felt compassion for as a child, causes him to suffer a great shock when he discovers that it is him and not Miss Havisham who has been financing him. Pip’s shame of his past, coupled with his inability to adequately escape it, demonstrates Dickens’ argument against people aspiring to be someone who they are not. Even though he may have been successful in appearing to be a gentleman of high society, ultimately, Pip was really just a doll being molded by Magwitch to be his “gentleman,” and by Miss Havisham, to be heart-broken by Estella.
... of events which will lead to his eventually becoming a gentleman. Dickens leaves the reader with no doubt that position and rank ... long ambition, to become a true gentleman. The reunion between Pip and Estella is an indication that Pip has been freed from all ... this with the changed attitudes of the tradesmen towards the gentleman Pip, who no longer look out of the window whilst they ...
It is only when Pip himself sees that he has been fooled by appearances, that he realizes the truth. He realizes that he has mistreated those who were truly dear to him and finally decides to return to the forge. He also returns to his compassionate self, and understands the true depth of the sacrifice that Magwitch has made for him. Pip is made to unlearn everything that he has learned in order to rediscover the importance of human relations over shallow appearances. The very notion of his “Great Expectations” is extinguished, as it becomes obvious that his expectations could only be met on the thin surface, but could never uproot his own identity.
The theme contrast between appearance and reality is illustrated, not only through Pip, but also through other characters in the novel. Miss Havisham, for example, has become bitter over her personal experience with deception. The broken heart that she acquires from the cheating Compeyson results in her own desire to deceive others through her brainwashed girl Estella. Eventually, Miss Havisham feels remorse, as she has believed that Estella has been ruining men’s lives but discovers the truth that it is Estella’s own life that has been ruined. Estella’s appearances are also far from the truth. She is discovered to be the daughter of Magwitch, of whom she bears no resemblance in character or appearance to. Magwitch, of course, is Pip’s surprise benefactor although his short appearance in the beginning of the novel made no suggestion of it.
Dickens’ play with appearances is also highlighted in his characterization of Wemmick. Wemmick lives a dual life at home and at work. At work, he is Mr. Jagger’s “yes man,” and is devoted to imitating his boss. In contrast, as Wemmick approaches his home, a gradual softening of his character becomes apparent. In fact, the Wemmick who resides in his “castle,” is a good example of a “true gentleman;” however, he cannot retain the title as it contradicts the drastic change in his character at work. Poor Wemmick must put on a mask in order to survive all of the horrible and immoral acts of people he is forced to deal with on a daily basis.
DNA: The Stuff Life is Made Of In 1995, at the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh, Scotland, the birth of two lambs heralded what many scientists believe to be a period of revolutionary opportunities in biology and medicine. Megan and Morag, both carried fully to term by a surrogate mother, were not produced from the union of a sperm and an egg. Instead, their genetic material came from cultured ...
At one point in the novel, Pip says that he is made to “play Hamlet to Miss Havisham’s Ghost” (p258).
The image of Hamlet’s struggle is important to Dickens’ theme of appearance versus reality. Claudius appears to be a good king, while he is in actuality a backstabbing murderer. Similarly, the ghost of Hamlet’s father beckons Hamlet to avenge his death, but Hamlet is trapped in his struggle between thought and action. More importantly, Mr. Wopsle’s performance in Hamlet functions to define the absurdity in Dickens’ contrast between appearance and reality. Mr. Wopsle, who has abandoned his life as a pastor to become an actor, receives much laughter during his staging of Hamlet. The tragic role of Hamlet is not an easy one to play, but the laughter that Wopsle generates indicates that he is simply not suited for the role. Likewise, Pip plays a false role as a gentleman that is unsuitable for him. The absurdity of Mr. Wopsle as Hamlet is simultaneously reflected in Pip’s absurdity as a gentleman who tries to shed his true identity.
Dickens adopts the image of Hamlet in his novel to stress his argument on the importance of truth and reality. It is more important for Pip to be a kind, compassionate, and honest labor boy than to be a “gentleman” who is too preoccupied with money to remember who he really is.