Great Expectations Analytical Essay

July 18, 2017 | Author: Yinmei Chan | Category: Great Expectations, Crimes, Science, Philosophical Science
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Chan 1 Yin Mei Chan Gardner Hon. English 10 1° 11 March 2014 Influential Crime Written approximately a year after the publication of Charles Darwin's theory of human development, the Victorian novel, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, closely relates to Darwin's proposal of nature versus nurture, a highly controversial notion which arose in the late 1800s. The theory of "nature versus nurture" refers to the belief that one's personality is malleable and can be altered by a given environment during childhood. From the "infant"(Dickens 1) to "gentleman"(128) mind of protagonist Philip Pirrip, or simply, Pip, Dickens explicates the relationship of childhood crime and conscience in regards to his future persona. Pip undergoes situations concerning criminality and a guilty conscience as he discovers himself accompanied by a run-away convict as he ventures into the real-world in search of a suitable life as a gentleman. From the earliest chapters of the criminally satiric novel, seven-year-old Pip is primarily introduced in a guilt-ridden environment. He is forced to choose between the possession of his unadulterated conscience or his only-beginning life. Pip, an orphan living with his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargary and her husband, Mr. Joe Gargary, mourns the death of his family in a nearby churchyard as he is approached by "a fearful man, all in coarse grey" (2). The man, an escaped prisoner, later introduced as Magwitch, demands a "file and them wittles" (4) by "to-morrow morning" (4) in return for sparing his life. As Pip heads home after interacting with Magwitch, Pip encounters a "dreadful thing" (10)—his conscience. Knowing he must fulfill the convict's

Chan 2 wishes by "rob[bing] Mrs. Joe"(10) of her homemade pork pot pie, Pip feels uneasy with the "guilty knowledge"(10) of his own anticipated actions, calling the ridicule of his conscience a "great punishment" (10). Because Pip is only a young boy, his conscience remains pure, for he has yet to go out into the real world and experiencing the harsh reality. But after committing his first crime—robbing Mrs. Joe of her Christmas Eve pot pie— (modifier with dashes) he is, in some ways, awakened by the misconducts associated with the real-world, even stating that after his interaction with Magwitch, he is "afraid to sleep"(13). Young Pip is nonetheless set on saving his own life; although he does not disregard his innocence and conscience, he prioritizes his survival; thus entangling himself with reality for the first time.

Surprisingly, Pip's misconduct as a mere adolescent propels his future in the direction of his dream: becoming a gentleman (sentence using a colon followed by a one-phrase appositive). As an adult, Pip manages to find employment in London, progressively working to fulfill his "great expectations;" however, he is working under the sponsorship of an unknown benefactor. Unpredictably, "[his] convict"(317), Magwitch, reveals himself to be the man supporting Pip's new life in London: "I'm your second father. You're my son—more to me nor any son. I've put away money, only for you to spend" (321). Since his infant years, Pip has viewed Magwitch as "the wretched man" (323), however, now aware of Magwitch's sacrifices, Pip is sorrowful for the horrid assumptions of his persona, stating that "it would have been better" (363) if he "had loved him from the start" (363). Magwitch still remains a runaway convict nonetheless; thereby, Pip furthers his emotional guilt as he acknowledges Magwitch had "risked his life to come to [him]"(323) in London. Once blinded by the title, "convict," an innocent, young Pip instantaneously overlooked the noble intents buried within Magwitch's criminal reign, elucidating the power of crime over the developing conscience of an adolescent boy.

Chan 3 As his purity continues to degrade as a result of his association with a wanted criminal, Pip's conscience adjusts his standards for right versus wrong. With the accompaniment of his most trustworthy friend, Herbert Pocket, Pip undergoes a getaway plan for Magwitch to escape from London: unharmed and unnoticed. If Magwitch were to be caught by lawmen, he would be "sentenced to exile"(461), but with the flawless plan devised by Herbert, Pip "had very little fear of his safety"(296). Since childhood, Pip's mind has been constantly manipulated by the reoccurring concept of crime. Finally giving into the power of crime, Pip loses grasp of the qualifications of right and wrong: he begins to "[like] this scheme"(296) as if it brought him excitement and amusement (general statement: specific statement). Up until this point, Pip has fought against the deterioration of his virtuous conscience; however, the repetitions of misbehavior throughout his twenty years of life have brought him up to a man exhilarated by the deviousness of crime.

Through this coming of age novel, Dickens exploits the journey of Phillip Pirrip as he transitions from an innocent little boy, startled by merely the title "convict," to a man risking his own integrity to foresee the protection of "his [own] convict." Employing Darwins's "nature versus nurture," employing the harsh reality of the outside world, and employing solely one character, Dickens casts character Pip of Great Expectations as the personification of Darwin's words: "Nature is all that a man brings with himself into the world; nurture is every influence that affects him after his birth" (Darwin) (sentence that begins with parallel phrases).

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