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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens by Dennis Butts (auth.)

By Dennis Butts (auth.)

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There are many examples of people not being what they seem in the novel. Wemmick and Jaggers both seem cold and unfeeling at first , but have kindlier impulses beneath their businesslike exteriors, while Magwitch is perhaps the supreme example of the falsity of an unpleasant appearance, for though ugly and uncouth, he proves to be a man of lovable personality. Among characters who hypocritically effect an appearance of concern but are basically selfish, Uncle Pumblechook is outstanding. Mr and Mrs Camilla Pocket and Georgiana fawn upon Pip in his prosperity, of course, as does Mr Trabb, the local tailor, and Mrs-Coiler, the Pockets' toady neighbour.

Pip never entirely loses his decent feelings, of course ; he is frequently embarrassed by his treatment of Joe and by Biddy's reproaches . Another sign of his goodness is the way he tries to help Herbert, whose virtues he gradually comes to appreciate , with some of his newly-acquired wealth 'the only good thing I had done' , he says in Chapter 52. But Pip's feeling of guilt and shame are reawakened by the return of Magwitch in Chapter 39, and his initial response to the ex-convict's reappearance is aversion and repugnance.

We see how his origins and environment help to shape his personality and give him views and attitudes which gradually lead him into snobbish and unfeeling ways, but how , from the combination of his personality and later experiences, he finds some kind of integrity and harmony again. 37 The first important aspect of Pip's early life is the fact that he is an orphan. His parents and all his brothers lie buried in the local churchyard, and his speculations about their tombstone immediately tells us something about Pip's sensitive and imaginative nature.

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