Sometime within the course of reading Great Expectations you may ask yourself “Why is Pip such a jerk?” There are three significant reasons, he has a stupid name, his sister was a jerk, and he wants a buttload of money to get the prettiest gal' in all the land. But what makes him a morally potent man? The answer is another stupid name, and that name is Magwitch.
Magwitch has a considerable hold on pip throughout the entirety of Great Expectations, he is also one of the most surprising characters in the book. It seems as if with the flick of a switch, Magwitch can change pip completely, he can make him scared, he can bring him to opulence, and he open his eyes to reality. Without Magwitch pip would stay in a state of poverty he would never realize that gold is not the greatest gift, he would spend four-hundred pages staring at the sun.In the first chapter Magwitch grabs hold of pip through fear, he orders Pip to steal some whittles and food from his home and bring them to him. He speaks of a mysterious young man who would rip out Pips throat. The experience scars him like the experience of your dog getting hit by a car when you're eight years old, you'll remember it forever. Over the course of the novel as Pip loses his moral grounds; his human decency, and he forgets his family and his friends, this simple experience stays with him forever, and brings him back home. Dickens gives us a foreshadowing of events to come as pip gets on the carriage to his new life, the two men riding with him speak of his convict. He is followed by poverty, he is followed by this experience and it shapes the next fifteen years of his life.Very early on we begin to see Pip's fear turn into a care for his convict, “I had been waiting for him to see me, I might try to assure him of my innocence.” Somehow this scene seems juxtaposed with a classic film scene of a father being carried off to prison, or off to war, and the child staring sympathetically at him. Subconsciously it seems pip wants respect from this man, or some sort of care, he seems to want to fill a void. As pip realizes his aspirations that void gets bigger and he looks back on his life and his upbringing and becomes ashamed of it, he wants nothing to do with it. He hates the way he looks, the way he talks, and what he isn't capable of. While it's true that it is Estella, and Ms. Havisham that make him a snob, Magwitch is the one who shows him that he is. Well into the book Pip discovers he is given an enormous, gentlemanly if you will, inheritance from an unknown donor (Magwitch). The hole he thought would be fixed by wealth is torn deep with it. He becomes miserable beyond his belief, as even Joe, his best friend turns from him. He is rich but he is alone, even hated by some, there is no respect for him, there is no love. Herbert Pocket shows him both these qualities and, throws some lovin' in that hole making him less of a jerk. Keep in mind that if he hadn't had gotten that money from Magwitch he would crying in Joe's workshop corner chanting a phase along the lines of “the apocalypse is coming.” Ironically the money, which throughout the book is frowned upon helps Pip put his life back together. When Pip finds out that his money came from Magwitch, he is awe stricken, he makes a mad neurotic rush to put his life together. With the flick of a switch, the press of a button, the drop of a pebble...Pip inherits the realization that being poor isn't that bad, but being a needy jerk doesn't provide for a pleasant lifestyle. Once again, this is almost entirely because of Magwitch, Pip casts aside his childhood and looks within himself, able to find that all you need is love. He makes amends with his loved ones, he feels love, he feels emotions, real people feelings! He becomes satisfied with himself, and thats really quite an important part in life.We never truly find out who Magwitch as a person is, he is more than anything a symbol that Pip lives by, a symbol of death anof loss of innocence, and gain of knowledge. He's a symbol of money and greed; the gain and loss of it. Once you lose it, once you feel pain, once you feel sympathy, once you feel compassion, once you can put your feet on solid ground and not fall through any holes, you know you've got yourself a rocking lifestyle. Once Pip does this he is able to help the man who changed his life:“Dear Magwitch, I must tell you, now at last. You understand what I say?”.
“You had a child once, whom you loved and lost.”
“She lived and found powerful friends. She is living now. She is a lady and very beautiful. And I love her!”
By telling Pip about his daughter Estella, he brings together the two things that have torn him apart, poverty and wealth. He tears down the barrier within himself.