"Think of him! Look at him!"

Category: Writing & Reading | Type: Discussion | Title: Great Expectations (in Context) | Author: Charles Dickens | Ch: Chapter XLI

Herbert, the incarnation now of Respectability (Search), is horrified by Magwitch. Respectability ordained that a person's relatives, friends, and associates had also to be respectable. Magwitch jeopardizes the position of two young. The Finches of the Grove would likely drum Herbert and Pip out of the corps if their relation with Magwitch surfaced.

A critical part of Pip's education entails his learning to penetrate beneath Magwitch's appearance, troubled history, and vindictive aims and to recognize the ex-convict's victimization, from his birth on, shattered nature. Do so will prepare Pip to recognize the intrinsic humanity that is infinitely more important than class and condition. This is in part the definition of a gentle man.

Magwitch initially depends on Pip's recoiling from him, his benefactor, which proves he's made a gentleman on Pip. The situation parallels that between Miss Havisham and Estella. The more compassionate Pip becomes, the less of a "gentleman" he is to Magwitch's way of thinking, which is entirely a matter of appearance and class.

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