20th November 2017

mr pip

The well-known novel “Mr Pip” written by Lloyd Jones is a dramatic story following a young native teen named Matilda, located on a small island just off Papua New Guinea called Bougainville. Matilda re-tells her journey as a child, having to live with the constant possibility of an attack from the Papua Niugini military. Matilda was influenced by many characters throughout the book. Matilda experiences a huge journey in this novel being suppressed by the immense pressure that the blockade brought to Bougainville. Characters such as Matilda’s mother Dolores, Mr Watts and Pip from Great Expectations Dolores, are large influences on her in the novel; she transforms from a young naive girl into a mature adult after being introduced to one of history’s greatest writers, Charles Dickens and his book, Great Expectations.

Mr Watts begins to read Great Expectations to Matilda and her class, introducing the world of literature and reading. This came with the character Mr Pip, she began to be influenced by Mr Pip and as they got deeper into the story she only became more at attached to the character. By hearing Pip’s change from a young “common laboring boy” into a gentleman, Matilda is inspired to change in a similar way. She becomes obsessed with Pip and his lifestyle, and as Pip changes throughout the book, Matilda changes her actions in the real world due to Pips influence. Matilda begins to break the barrier between real life and fiction. “I would find myself walking with Pip up to Satis House with all its cobwebs and gloom.” Matilda imagines herself in the world of great expectations, which leads her to make her own decisions and change her view of the world, parallel to Pips influence. Matilda leaves Bougainville to study Dickens at Queensland University in Australia. By the time of her graduation, she had become a dickens expert. This is similar to Pip who leaves for London, where he begins his education. Lloyds novel effectively describes Matilda’s journey which shows her sheer need to have someone to interact with and escape the immense pressure that she suffered. Her need for another realty allowed the story to affect her and her choices.

Mr. Watts is a character whose journey is also depicted in Mister Pip. At first Mr Watts described as being strange and sad. They see him as somebody who does not belong on the island, like all the other white people on the island,  although unlike the rest of the white population, he stayed following the blockade. Matilda describes Mr watts appearance,“on those days he wore the red clown nose you would find yourself looking away because you had never seen such sadness”. Mr Watts takes on the role of teacher because there are no other teachers available for the native children. As he begins to teach his personality changes as well. He steps in during a time of need for teachers, the children needed an occupation to take their minds off the blockade and the harsh surroundings. “Mr. Watts had given us kids another piece of the world. I found I could go back to it as often as I like”, Mr Watts helped the students to escape to another reality, something that Matilda took a liking to. To Matilda he “was whatever we needed him to be, whatever we asked him to be.” Mr watts becomes Mr Pip by introducing them to great Expectations and a white world in Victorian England. We see the important role he plays as he introduces Matilda to Pip and his world, which leads her to make a parallel change in her own life because of these influences.

The relationship between Matilda and Dolores was depicted as being complicated. Dolores dislikes Great Expectations because she thinks the english culture will influence her decisions and ruin the native culture that Matilda was brought up with, “I want to know everything that happens in that book. You hear me, Matilda?”. Dolores is overprotective and won’t let anything change or affect Matilda. Matilda doesn’t like these restrictions and this influences her to make her own decisions. Dolores is an extremely religious woman, she acts and the village priest. In great expectations there are references to stealing, as Matilda re-tells the story to Dolores, Dolores is appalled, “What would you do, girl? If a man was hiding in the jungle and he asks you to steal from me. Would you do that?” says Dolores. Hypocritically, Dolores steals great expectations in the mindset that the book is evil and is only doing harm to the village. This affects matilda strongly. Matilda writes P I P on the beach earlier in the novel, consequently the redskins raid the village in search of Pip, not knowing of the book they burn all the villagers belongings. Because Dolores didn’t admit she stole the book, there was no proof that Pip existed. Later, Matilda found the book in her father’s bed mat, this made her look with disgust at Dolores. “She had kept silent when she could have saved the possessions of the village.” As she should be, Dolores is a big influence to Matilda, although the two of them have a conflicting relationship they both respect each other.

Matilda becomes a new person by the end of the book. Being influenced by multiple characters she matures into a woman, educated and sophisticated. This only came through her horrific childhood, witnessing slaughter and treated as a hostage. The book is an eye-opening text, it gives you a different perspective on the world as such horrific events happen so close. Matilda is torn between the influences of her mother and Mr Watts, one being that she keeps to the native ways and the other that she takes to the modern world. Matilda reflects on her imaginary relationship with Pip, “pip was my story, even if i was once a girl, and my face black as the shining night. Pip is my story, and in the next day i would try where Pip had failed. I would try to return home.” She is compelled to return home, unlike Pip did, this shows that Matilda is her own woman, making her own decisions not under the influence of others. “Mr Dickens had taught everyone of us kids that our voice was special, and we should remember this whenever we used it, and remember that whatever else happened to us in our lives our voice could never be taken away from us.”

Anton Cousins

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