Great Expectations - Analysing the extract

The question

Starting with this extract, how does Dickens present Pip's character in the novel?

As part of your answer you will need to analyse what the passage shows about Pip's character at this point.

Look again at the extract below with some highlighted points that you could write about in an answer. Think about what Dickens is telling the reader about Pip's state of mind.

For an hour or more, I remained too (1) stunned to think; and it was not until I began to think, that I began fully to know (2) how wrecked I was, and how (2) the ship in which I had sailed was gone to pieces.

Miss Havisham's intentions towards me, all (3) a mere dream; Estella not (4) designed for me; I only suffered in Satis House as a convenience, a sting for the greedy relations, a (4) model with a (4) mechanical heart to practise on when no other practice was at hand; those were the first smarts I had. But, (5) sharpest and deepest pain of all -- it was for the convict, guilty of I knew not what crimes, and liable to be taken out of those rooms where I sat thinking, and hanged at the (6) Old Bailey door, that I had (7) deserted Joe.

I would not have gone back to Joe now, I would not have gone back to Biddy now, for any consideration: simply, I suppose, because my sense of my own (8) worthless conduct to them was greater than every consideration. No wisdom on earth could have given me the comfort that I should have derived from their simplicity and fidelity; but I could (9) never, never, never, undo what I had done.

  • (1) 'stunned' - Pip cannot think straight. The news he has just received has shocked him into silence and his powers of reasoning have left him.
  • (2) 'how wrecked I was' / 'the ship in which I had sailed was gone to pieces' - Dickens uses a metaphor to show how Pip feels like a shipwrecked sailor with no hope of rescue.
  • (3) 'a mere dream' - Pip realises that he has been fooling himself.
  • (4) 'designed' / 'model' / 'mechanical' - These words remind the reader of the deliberately constructed hopes that Pip has had about winning Estella. Pip realises that Miss Havisham has been the one to construct them and that she has used him. Again, it is another effective metaphor, comparing Pip to a toy model, he realises that he was some 'thing' to be 'played' with.
  • (5) 'sharpest and deepest' - The use of superlative adjectives shows the depth of feeling that Pip's realisation has caused. It is the worst pain he could possibly feel.
  • (6) 'Old Bailey' - The image of the law court is a reminder that Pip's great expectations come from the earnings of a criminal.
  • (7) 'deserted' - The chosen verb has hints of cowardice, a 'deserter' was someone who ran away from battle during war.
  • (8) 'worthless conduct' - Pip realises that he may have had money but that his behaviour has had no value at all.
  • (9) 'never, never, never' - Strong repetition which shows the depths of Pip's despair.