Forgiveness In Dickens' Great Expectations
Miriam A felt completely choleric. She just could not forgive her husband's apologies anymore. Almon B was a drunkard. When he came home intoxicated, he was always extremely apologetic and told her that he'd never get drunk again. Miriam now knew that Almon was not really repentant. She could forgive him until she was blue, but unless Almon truly repented, their marriage would not work. Forgiveness is an important aspect in the family as well as in society, which is built on the family. In Charles Dickens' peerless novel called Great Expectations, many characters find it easy to pardon others, but some have to learn to ...view middle of the document...
.."3 In Great Expectations, Joe is definitely the most magnanimous character.
Throughout the novel, Pip wants to be a gentleman. It is easy to see, however, that Pip does not understand what a true gentleman is. Pip thinks a gentleman is a man of fine breeding with a good education, wearing fancy clothes, and showing good manners. If anything, Joe (a man of humble breeding with no education, wearing blacksmith's clothes, showing poor manners) is the best example of a gentleman in the whole book! He is a gentleman on the inside - at the heart. He is able to forgive and loves Pip unconditionally. Joe's great love for Pip can be compared to our Heavenly Father's love for us. Both loves are unconditional. No matter how many times we turn away from God, He is there every time to take us back, forgiving us completely.
Just as we sometimes turn away from God, Pip turns away from Joe. When Pip meets Estella and the "glittering alternative to life at the forge that she and Satis House represent, he can't ever again enjoy the idea of working with Joe at the forge."4 When he acquires his fortune, Pip totally pushes Joe out of his life. Because Great Expectations is written in first person (and Pip is a very honest storyteller), we can observe that "while Pip the narrator recognizes Joe's goodness..."5 and great love for him, "...Pip the character goes on treating him badly. Joe forgives Pip for this; we can admire that or wish he had more gumption."6 Common sense would tell Joe that he should not forgive; but Joe unconditionally loves and is magnanimous to Pip.
He keeps on forgiving Pip as the novel continues. An excellent illustration of this is the time when Joe goes to London after hearing that Pip is ill. In London, Joe nurses him to health. "Joe is gentle and tender to Pip, as if [he] were still the small helpless creature to whom Joe had so abundantly given the wealth of his great nature." 7 After Pip is well, though, Joe goes back to being formal with him (even though at this point in the story Pip is just as poor as Joe is - but Joe does not know this). Thus, their relationship changes back to what Pip had created it to be. Although Joe holds no resentment towards him, he never again is able to treat Pip as an equal. "The cause of [the change] was in me..." Pip says, and "...the fault of it was all mine."8
Not only is Pip at fault for the "stiff' relationship he created with Joe, but his is also to blame for the lifetime he wasted loving Estella. "In choosing Estella, Pip alters and defines the entire world, and gives it a permanent structure pervaded by her presence. He is true to the determining choice of his life, the choice that lie made when, 'humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry, sorry,' he reacted to the taunts of Estella not by hating and rejecting her, but by accepting her judgment of him, and by spontaneously rejecting all pieties of the forge."9 He felt that Estella was capable of repenting and making her...