by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations Pip Quotes
So, leaving word with the shopman on what day I was wanted at Miss Havisham's again, I set off on the four-mile walk to our forge; pondering, as I went along, on all I had seen, and deeply revolving that I was a common labouring-boy; that my hands were coarse; that my boots were thick; that I had fallen into a despicable habit of calling knaves Jacks; that I was much more ignorant than I had considered myself last night, and generally that I was in a low-lived bad way. (8.105)
Notice that Pip never seems to think that his world might be better or nobler than theirs? He instantly thinks that the way of life at Satis House is better than his, even though it's full of decay, spiders, and weird ladies.
Whatever I acquired, I tried to impart to Joe. This statement sounds so well, that I can't in my conscience let it pass unexplained. I wanted to make Joe less ignorant and common, that he might be worthier of my society and less open to Estella's reproach. (15.2)
Pip is so caught up in the appearances of things that he feels like gentlemanly behavior can be caught, like a cold. Pip values the knowledge that Miss Havisham and Estella have over the common-man knowledge that Joe has, even though an idiot could see that Joe knows more about how the world works.
"Biddy," said I, after binding her to secrecy, "I want to be a gentleman." (17.24)
Almost all of the people Pip knows have specific societal roles with specific societal functions: the tailor, the blacksmith, the clerk, the lawyer, the seedsman, the shipping agent, and all of these people seem content in their lives of earning profit and creating things. Not Pip. His goal is much more vague: a gentleman. What is a gentleman? What does a gentleman do? How will Pip know when he becomes a gentleman? And isn't that vagueness kind of the point? If you can't define it, it's easy for someone else to tell you that you're not one.