Pip’s Happiness As A Gentleman

Pip’s journey toward becoming a gentleman is starting to remind me of John Stuart Mill’s Autobiography about happiness.

In paragraph 2 Mill talks about how he had set his whole life and happiness around a distant idea, but suddenly one day he realized that it wouldn’t bring him great happiness because he wasn’t happy in the present. He asked himself, “Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to, could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?” He then describes his reaction to this by saying, “And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, “No!” At this my heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end”.

I’m starting to see this in Pip’s character as he is reflecting on his past. Pip has constructed his life around the idea of becoming a gentleman and marrying Estella, making it seem as though that will bring him great happiness in life and it’s the end goal for him, but as he is slowly realizing, he’s missing out on many things in life during this process and we as readers really start to see this turn when he finds out that it was not Miss Havisham who was his benefactor, but the convict, Magwitch.

When he tells Estella that he loves her to find out that she is marrying Drummle is a pivotal point for Pip as marrying her was in Pip’s end plan for the future/happiness. Estella tells him that he’ll forget him in a week and Pip replies by saying, “Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself” showing that he built his life around her.

Pip is realizing that he isn’t getting any happiness/gratification out of the present. He has realized how terrible he has treated people who truly care about him like Joe and Biddy and he even admits to Miss Havisham that he wished he had never left the village he came from.

It’s also interesting with drawing comparisons between Mill and Pip in that they are both writing/narrating reflectively of their transformations so it makes me wonder how Pip’s story will end. Will he return back to Joe and Biddy?

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