The Freedom of Choice: a snob or a gentleman?
Dickens explores the values of different social classes of Victorian England in Great Expectations. Born in a lower middle class family, Philip Pirrip’s wish is to be part of a higher social class which would enable him to live with civilized people. Pip, as an orphan raised by hands in poor conditions, meets criminals like Magwitch and extremely rich aristocrats like Miss Havisham. Stella, allegedly illustrating a representative of the upper class at the beginning of story, almost becomes an unreachable star. At this stage, Pip is under great influences and he is not sure how to think and how to behave. Should he choose a way to stay at the forge and to work with Joe or choose a way to become a gentleman? Should he stay in a world he is loved, treated with sincerity and feeling comfortable in, or should he choose a competitive and brutal world in which he may feel completely strange?Since the word ‘pip’ has the meaning as ‘seed’, the novel is divided into three stages comparable to the growth of the ‘seed’: the first stage is its long waiting in the dark and cold soil, the second is its first blossom above the soil and the third is its reaching maturity and readiness to produce another seed for the future generation. At the beginning, Pip is obviously in the first stage. Miss Havisham’s dark house and Estalla’s cold behavior may be compared to the stage of the seed waiting in the dark, cold soil to grow out of it. Pip’s second stage is his ‘blossoming’ in London, not as a gentleman, but as a snob. What will the third stage be: will he remain as a snob or will he turn into a gentleman? Whatever it will be: it will be his free choice with his free will.
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Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences ISSN 2039-9340(Print) ISSN 2039-2117(Online)
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