Great Expectation’s Happy Ending

For my Final Essay I am examining the portrayal of Wemmick as an inspiration to Pip, or as just another poor soul suffering under capitalism. One of the central subjects in this debate revolves around the novel’s ending. If it is a happy one and Pip reaches it by acting like Wemmick then Wemmick is good, If either of these things are not true then Wemmick’s position is much murkier.

Although I believe Wemmick is a good character, this argument gives me pause because I do not see Wemmick’s actions echoed by Pip. Pip does not engage in any division of self and his acceptance of Estella at the end of the Novel, even if it may lead to good things, is a clear demosntration that his self control has not improved. Meanwhile Wemmick is the master of Self Control. Furthermore, Although Pip’s relationship with his Joe improves, It is extremely different from Wemmick’s relationship with his father. Not only does Pip live far away from his father, he never returns to do any work at the forge and as such does not engage in the same type of labor and physical object oriented bonding that Wemmick and the Aged engage in (raising the drawbridge, or firing the cannon for example.)

Another Issue with scholars who connect Pip’s ending with Wemmick, is that they ignore the influence of Joe throughout the novel, from the moment Pip leaves town, as well as Pip’s transformative experience with Magwich. One scholar suggests the Pip’s treatment of Magwich is misdirected but I would instead characterize it as a learning experience. Through Magwich Pip learns again what it is like to be loyal, to be a son, and gains a new understanding of money, lessening its appeal. Without Magwitch’s arrival Pip may never have gone back to Joe, no matter how many times he visited Walworth.

As I go into my essay I still intend to Argue that Wemmick is a positive response to capitalism, but I think I will have to do so without the same narrative arguments that other scholars have, since the case does not seem to be very clear on that front.