“is it personal weakness or something else that is chiefly to blame for what happens to a central character in one of the core texts?”
In Charles Dickens, Great Expectations, the young protagonist, Pip is decieved into believing in a far better life than the one he is living. On his way to this better life, Pip mistreats the people who should mean most to him and loses respect for his simple upbringing. Pips simple upbringing by his enraged mother is to blame for his lack of respect for his family, along with Miss Havishams and Estellas desire to make him feel like a peasant. Pips young mind absorbs everything around him and shouldn't be the blame for his actions. His actions are a result of the people surrounding him and the way they treat him.
It is through his sister and gaurdian, Mrs.Joe Gargery and her husband, Joe Gargery, this his youthful mind is molded. It is obvious in the earliest stages of the book that Pip does not accept Mrs.Gargery as a mother figure, in his introduction of her he remarks he, “wonders whether it was possible she washed herself with a nutmeg grater instead of soap”. Being the mid-nineteenth century, the description would be considered extremely disrespectful to someone of an authourity figure. This is the first sign of Pip considering himself more important than another.
Pip is very close to Joe and witnesses all the trouble Mrs.Joe causes him. Pip, speaking of his sister says she has a, “hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of laying it upon her husband aswell as upon me”. Pip who was originally thought to be destined to take Joes place see's Joe as being blindly overpowered and mocked by his sister, who even yells at Pip, “It's bad enough to be a blacksmiths wife without being your mother”. It's these things that cause Pip to opt for a life away from the forge. Pip only hints on his thoughts for the future once, and that is to think he would be a criminal after Mrs.Joe told him he fit the profile. This suggests that the effect of Mr and Mrs.Gargerys actions towards each other and to Pip affect him only on a subconcious level at this point in time.
When Pip is invited to miss Havishams house, everyone in his home town gives him more respect and attention. Gentry is presented to him as such a positive thing, and in comparison to his home life, seems to be perfect. When he gets to Satis House, Pip is looked down upon and teased by miss Havisham and Estella. This is why he lies to Mrs.Joe and Biddy, he tells them all about Satis House and how great it is. This is the first we see of Pip mistreating his own family and neglecting to care for those who show him true love.
It is ironic that Miss Havishams house is so run down and crippled. Pip admires her and see's her as a mentor oblivious to the fact that she lives in ruins. The mouldy wedding cake is a symbol of Miss Havishams rotten and poisonous mind. This revealing that although Miss Havisham is of.