2 May 2012
Pips’ Guilt and Conscience Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, one of his finest works of art, which describes many realistic dilemmas of that time. In this novel Dickens presents many motifs and themes, such as guilt, conscience, love and social classes. One theme that is associated with many characters in this novel, if not all, is guilt and conscience. From Pip to Biddy, quilt and conscience play a very significant role between the characters relationships and to themselves. Each character has his or her own guilty and unique conscience on which the characters react and express themselves. This paper will discuss guilt and conscience of one character who plays two roles in the novel and how Dickens Pip the character and Pip the Narrator to express himself, allowing the reader to enter his thought process. In other words, Dickens uses his character and the narrator to get his point of view out, expressing what he thinks of the time. Pip the characters guilt and conscience develops over his life, changing his views of others and his actions, while Pip the narrator already knows what will occur, so he has time to dwell upon his actions and understand his actions, so he can further more understand how his actions have effected others and himself. Pip the character has always felt guilty and his conscience has been always visible from the beginning of the novel, and one can even say he was brought up by guilt, which allowed his conscience to dwell upon his actions later as the novel progressed. One example of his bringing up in guilt would be his sister Mrs. Joe. She would say “who brought you up by hand,” (Dickens 17) this made him think that he was grateful of what his sister had done for him. As Pip continues he feels guiltier and his conscience becomes more active, he begins to look down on himself and feels like a criminal. Pip is not only guilty that Mrs. Joes had to raise him up by hand he is also “guilty of theft, a crime frequently condemned in children’s literature of the period” (Whitaker 1). Not only did he steal, he stole from the two people that have raised him and gave him love, food and shelter.
Besides Pip’s guilt, Dickens puts emphasis on an item used by Mrs. Joe called the “tickler.” Whenever Pip did something wrong Mrs. Joe would beat him with the tackler, which can be used to understand Dickens childhood. Dickens allows us to “enter imaginatively into many types of mental and physical child abuse and gives him an uncanny understanding of its psychic consciences” (Puttlock 1). Dickens might have gone through this when he was younger. Pip the character is seen as Charles Dickens himself, “revealing a work through of his own childhood trauma to a mature acceptance of his and his parents failings” (2). In other words Dickens uses Pip as a fictional version of himself, in with he can free himself from all his thoughts, such as social classes, corruption of his time and negligence of his parents.
As Pip progresses in the novel he tries to forget his old life, trying to become a gentlemen. Pips new life begins with Magwitch and his money. Magwitch gives Pip money to become a gentleman, but little did Pip know that he would become snobby and lose grasp of the one he loves. Pip starts to ignore Joe and Mrs. Joe, “Pips has been guilty of snobbery towards Joe and his benefactor Magwitch” (4). Pips guilt slowly grows larger and larger as he continues with his life, while his conscience is seen to be working making him feel the wrong he has done. For example, when Pip’s sister dies, he feels guilty and his conscience reminds him of what he could have done to please his sister, such as replying her letter and coming to visit her. Pip not only grew with guilt but slowly become snobby because of the wealth he occupied. Pips innocence is a major fact for his criminal and snobbery actions, “The novel is saying that snobbery of the sort practiced by Pip in the second stage