Free Study Guide for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Book Summary
Joe’s “common” behavior at Miss Havisham’s is the first in a long series of things that Pip becomes ashamed of as a result of his time with Estella. He watches Estella smile at Joe and imagines she is laughing at his base ways and lowly mannerisms, and Pip is embarrassed.
Ultimately, Pip’s apprenticeship takes him away from Satis House and the taste of uncommon-ness he had enjoyed there. He becomes preoccupied with thoughts of Estella and Miss Havisham, and his dissatisfaction with his old life grows steadily. He becomes more ashamed of home, and of Joe. Both are constant reminders that his station in life will never meet Estella’s standards and this troubles him greatly.
Against Joe’s better wishes, Pip takes half a day off from work to visit Miss Havisham. Orlick, Joe’s employee, is jealous and requests half a day off as well. When Joe grants it, Mrs. Joe interrupts and this leads to a quarrel between her and Orlick, and subsequently between Orlick and Mrs. Joe. Pip goes to Miss Havisham’s only to discover Estella is away in France, being educated as a lady.
Upon arrival at his home, Pip discovers that someone has broken in and injured Mrs. Joe. A leg-iron that was long ago filed away lies on the ground next to her, and she is permanently brain-damaged. She is bed-ridden, hearing-impaired, and unable to speak. Biddy moves in to be her nurse and look after Joe and Pip.
The story takes an unprecedented turn with the near-fatal wounding of Mrs. Joe. Her incapacity to do work and impaired senses create a lot of stress in the household until Biddy comes to stay. Then she becomes an invaluable member of the family. Joe finds a consoler in her and Pip finds a close entrusted friend. Biddy also takes up the responsibility of taking care of Mrs. Joe. One good thing about the accident is that it makes Mrs. Joe a much nicer person. She is suddenly patient and bearable. She even apologizes to Orlick and becomes kind and gentle at heart.
The perpetrator of the evil deed is not found, but to his own horror, Pip suspects the convict he long ago freed. He is glad that Biddy has joined them and he admires the way she conducts herself about the house and helps in his learning.
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. 09 May 2017