In literature, characters often reflect and highlight aspects of their peers. This concept can be demonstrated by similarities and differences in their actions, speech, and ways of adapting to changes in their surroundings. This common occurrence exists in Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations. Pip and his flatmate Herbert's circumstances are similar, in that they are both gentlemen and have romantic interests, but their conduct in the face of these situations show their true nature as characters. Although Pip and Herbert are similar in many respects, the differences in the ways in which they deal with certain situations prove Herbert to be more morally developed than Pip.
An example of the parallels between Pip and Herbert is that they are both gentlemen, whether by a benefactor, or by being born wealthy. However, the approaches each of these young men take to the accumulation of wealth and stature are very different. Pip, after playing at Miss Havisham's house, develops a superiority complex, acts rudely towards his poorer friends and family, and shuns them to associate with higher class people and to partake in higher class pastimes. Nonetheless, though he neglects his family, he still expects them to love him unconditionally. "After a pause, they both heartily congratulated me; but there was a certain touch of sadness in their congratulations, that I rather resented." (Dickens 143) This passage shows how Pip does not prioritize the needs of others as he does for himself. He does not consider Joe or Biddy's sadness about his leaving for London, he expects that because he is realizing his childhood aspirations, his family should feel nothing but happiness for him. Additionally, though there is not information about how Herbert treats his family after leaving to become a gentleman, it can be inferred from his caring and accepting nature that he would handle his leaving with more care and grace.