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Great Expectations > Ambition

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Stephen Hegedus | 205 comments Mod
How does ambition, or a lack thereof, play a role in Dickens's novel? Who has ambition and who hasn't? How does it affect the narrative?

message 2: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Reilly (tracyreilly) Well, Pip is ambitious. He starts to look down on his sister and brother-in-law, rejejcting his roots, and that is when his values change and tragedy begins to play about him.

message 3: by Paulina (new)

Paulina (paulinabibliophile) | 192 comments Is ambition always a bad thing though?

message 4: by Leah (new)

Leah (uncorkedthoughts) Pip's negative change of character gives the trait an unpleasant edge. Ambition itself isn't at fault in the novel, but Pip's reactions and disregard of his family is what makes the process of his 'achieving' his ambition such a struggle to support. His neglect and respect towards his roots and towards Joe is painful to read, especially with the shame he feels towards Joe. I felt it to be a harsh setting to see this decline within Pip's character as his vanity and how he is perceived by others takes over his loyalty towards the man who protected him.
The narrative portrays ambition as a negative aspect in Pip's life through creating the character of Joe as such a loveable and sympathetic man in contrast to the harsh, coldness developed by Pip through his success. The contrast between Pip and Joe's relationship at the beginning of the novel and its digression throughout is the most painful deterioration within the novel as we view the couple who once shared their own hidden games at the table become almost strangers through Pip's estrangement and shame.

Stephen Hegedus | 205 comments Mod
I think you're right Leah. There is that fantastic scene in the middle with Joe and Pip. I think you know which scene I'm referring to, if you don't stay tuned.

I'd like to add that I feel a lot of characters have ambition in this novel. Pip has it the most but I also feel that Jo has it too. He does want to learn the alphabet after Pip shows him what he wrote, doesn't he? He does want to improve himself. Perhaps it is merely his circumstances that are preventing him - that and his wife who is a particularly crabby woman. And that's just putting it nicely.

message 6: by Paulina (new)

Paulina (paulinabibliophile) | 192 comments I always thought the reason Jo did try to learn his letters was to parrot Pip's attempt at education. The two of them start the book at an equal level (comparing bites of bread), then Pip moves up the social ladder, and finally comes back down and is equal with Jo once more. As Pip moves up and down the social ladder, Jo stays where he is.
I think Jo foils Pip where ambition is concerned. Pip is trying to become a gentleman because he is ashamed of his current station, but we never get those feelings from Jo. He's a blacksmith, and proud of it!

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