Great Expectations- The Evolution Of Pip In Great Expectations, Pip goes through stages of moral maturity. Over the course of the novel, Pip learns lifelong lessons that result from pain, guilt, and shame. Pip evolves from a young boy filled with shame and guilt to a selfish, young man, and finally into a man who has true concern for others. Pip goes through three stages in the novel; shame and guilt, self-gratification, and his stage of redemption. The first stage of Pip’s maturity is his shame and guilt.
Shame is a feeling brought on by circumstances beyond the control of the person. For example, Pip feels ashamed over how common and coarse he and Joe are. Guilt, on the other hand, is a feeling brought on by one’s actions. An example of this is after Pip beats the pale young gentlemen. Pip starts off the novel with feelings of guilt but when Pip encounters Estella and Miss Havisham he begins to feel shame as well. Pip feels ashamed about how he is so common.
He regrets that Joe is a mere blacksmith and has no education. Pip’s shame is brought on by Estella. Estella points out all of Pip’s common mannerisms and treats Pip as an inferior, even though they are about the same age. She taunts Pip for calling knaves “Jacks”, for wearing thick boots, and for having coarse hands. This makes Pip feel ashamed of things he has never been ashamed of before. His self-esteem is demolished by Estella. Pip thinks to himself: “I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very different pair,” From then on, Pip is ashamed of who he is and where he comes from.
He doesn’t see himself in the same light as he used to. Pip’s feelings of guilt are shown after the fight with the young pale gentlemen and the attack of Mrs. Joe. After beating up the boy at Ms. Havisham’s, Pip said he “felt but gloomy satisfaction in my victory. Indeed, I go so far as to hope that I regarded myself while dressing, as a species of savage young wolf, or other wild beasts.”1 Pip is not happy with his behavior.
Though Pip feels guilt here, some feelings of pride come over Pip; he did beat up a gentlemen. The attack upon Mrs. Joe also brings guilt to Pip. The weapon used against Mrs. Joe was an ironed leg-chain. Pip’s guilt comes from his believing that he supplied the weapon.
Orlick puts blame on Pip, as well. “I was at first disposed to believe that I must have had some hand in the attack upon my sister..I was a more legitimate object of suspicion than anyone else.”2 Although Pip was in no way responsible for his sister’s attack, he is filled with guilt.