Pip's education in Great Expectations

From ignorant to educated

As a child, Pip receives almost no formal education:

  • Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's school is almost entirely useless
  • he acquires some basic literacy and a few random facts from Biddy – an experience which puts him well beyond the almost illiterate Joe.

After he receives news of his expectations, his education is rapidly advanced:

  • Herbert Pocket teaches him social manners appropriate to his new status
  • he ‘reads' with Matthew Pocket and Mr. Pocket's other students and thus begins to study much more profitably and systematically
  • he appears to pursue a regular course of reading into adult life.

Education and social class

In the novel, education is closely linked to class:

  • Pip's educational ambitions arise from his wish to be more worthy of Estella
  • with Matthew and Herbert Pocket, he begins to acquire the education thought appropriate for a gentleman
  • Matthew Pocket's other students, although middle-class, clearly need some remedial education to fit them either for university education or for a professional role
  • Magwitch perceives that the gentlemanly Compeyson is able to use his education to his advantage in the court room.
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