Getting Lit: Pip’s Characterization

In Chapter 49 of Great Expectations we see Miss Havisham have another tragedy befall her, a poetic consequence, getting heated for raising such a cold-hearted girl. What was curious was Pip’s reaction here: “I was astonished to see that both my hands were burnt; for, I had no knowledge of it through the sense of feeling.” (Dickens, Chapter 49). Pip was so mentally involved with trying to save Miss Havisham that he was completely oblivious to his own pain. An obvious connection to be made is that Pip, a previous blacksmithing apprentice, was merely used to the heat, but I think this connects more to Pip’s character over his previous occupations. Despite Miss Havisham manipulating Estella and marrying her off to Drummle, and manipulating and misguiding Pip, Pip doesn’t let her burn, he immediately goes to help her. This portrays a fundamental component to Pip’s personality, regardless of which Pip he is: Pip will help people. As Handel, he may become snobby and entitled, but he retains some of the characteristics that young Pip who snuck food and the file to the convict in the swamp. Moreover, Pip’s interference and actions have a more potent result on his own life than he realizes. When young Pip helped Magwitch, he was led to repay Pip and elevate him to a gentleman’s status. The consequences of Pip attempting to stop Miss Havisham –when he could have left her– are likely to impact both his and Estella’s lives.

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