In other words, from the dictionary definition of a snob, it is clear that Pip has now become one because he wants to mix only with those of a ‘higher social status’ and is turning his back on his friends from his earlier life. Pip later returns to his old home village and shows further signs of snobbery when he stays at the Blue Boar Inn instead of staying with Joe, and he sends food to Joe, rather than going to see him because he is ashamed of his lowly origins and wants to rise above his status by not being seen with a lower class man.. He also returns to Satis house to see Estella, who is back from Paris, and while he is walking down the street he is mocked by ‘Trabb’s boy’, standing behind him and saying ‘Don’t know yah, don’t know yah…’ (P267) because of his genteel clothes and upper class air.
By this time Pip is leading the idle and extravagant life of a typical rich gentleman of the period. He and Herbert join a club for young gentlemen, ‘The Finches of the Grove’ – a name chosen by Dickens because a Finch was a pseudonym for an upper class idiot who came from a privileged background and frittered his family’s money on lavish living. Like the other ‘Finches’, Pip is leading a pointless and extravagant life and his excesses are pushing him into debt.
At the same time, he has recurring guilt about his attitude to Joe and Biddy, and it is at this point that he hears in a letter that his sister, who earlier in the book had been badly beaten, has died. He travels back for the funeral, but this time, because of his guilty conscience. he stays in his old house with Joe and Biddy, rather than at the Blue Boar Inn. It is noticeable that Joe and Biddy are also affected by Pip’s rise in status because they now refer to him as ‘Mr Pip’ (P302). While he is staying there Pip speaks to Joe and reveals his change of heart when he entreats Joe to: ‘For God’s sake, give me your blackened hand!’
He is clearly showing a little remorse about his previous snobbishness and showing them that, even though he has become a gentleman, he has not abandoned his roots and still values their friendship. It also indicates that for the first time Pip is beginning to see through outside or superficial appearances to the fine man beneath. When Pip returns to London a man knocks at the door and reveals himself as Magwitch, the man who he met on the Marshes all those years ago.
Magwitch reveals that he is Pip’s mystery benefactor and explains what led him to become a criminal. Pip is devastated to learn that it is Magwitch, and not Miss Havisham, who is his benefactor and realizes that he has been neglecting Joe in preference for ‘expectations’ which have been paid for by a convict. His snobbery is very obvious because, instead of gratitude, his attitude is one of total horror and disgust: ‘The abhorrence in which I held the man, the dread I had of him, the repugnance with which I shrank from him, could not have been exceeded if he had been some terrible beast’ (P337) – language again associated with a person from the higher classes.
Despite his reformed attitude to Joe and Biddy, therefore, it is obvious that Pip is still very much a snob because he does not want his wealthy friends to learn of his low class benefactor. He tries to pay Magwitch off by giving him two clean pound notes, but straightaway Magwitch burns them because he is offended that Pip is trying to get rid of him in this way. Nevertheless, Pip feels he owes it to Magwitch, who would face death by hanging if he is caught, to help him hide.
Pip even pretends that Magwitch is an uncle, rather than reveal that his benefactor is a lowly convict and at the same time put him at risk of capture. Pip decides to share his secret with Herbert and they plan to send Magwitch back to Australia on a steamship, but the police capture him and he is sent to prison, later to be hanged. While he is there, Pip (who has found out that Magwitch is Estella’s father), goes to visit him – a very selfless act in those times because prisons, which were in appalling condition and full of dreadful diseases, were never visited by persons of a higher social class. People in those times were as familiar with the ‘Bible’ as the public today are with television soap operas and Dickens’ readers would have seen a parallel between Pip’s behaviour and the Biblical story of the Pharisee and the publican.
In the meantime, Pip has been to see Miss Havisham to ask why she let him believe that she was his mystery benefactor and why she let him think that Estella was for him. She tells him that she wanted to get revenge on men and he forgives her but asks, by way of repayment, if she can give money to Herbert for the business he plans to set up in India. He then goes back to London and finds he is becoming ill. He falls down the stairs, where he is found by Herbert, who writes to Joe and Joe and Herbert between them nurse Pip back to health.
Joe pays off all Pip’s debts, but Pip is unhappy with this because by this time he is feeling terrible remorse for the way he has behaved to his friend. He wants Joe to be angry with him, rather than help him, but Joe forgives him by saying: ‘God bless him, this gentle Christian man’ (P472). Through Joe Dickens’ is showing us his belief that there is a moral hierarchy superior to the English social hierarchy.