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Discuss the role of Joe Gargery in Great Expectations.

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GCSE ENGLISH COURSEWORK Discuss the role of Joe Gargery in Great Expectations Joe Gargery plays a large role in Great Expectations. It is clear that Dickens uses Joe to symbolise happiness and contentment. The changing relationship between Joe and Pip is intriguing and the manner in which he deals with Pip's struggles is of central concern to the novel. Before studying the effect Joe has in the novel, and in particular his relationship with Pip, it is important fully to understand Joe's background and the intent with which Dickens created a character like Joe. While it suits the plot that Joe is a blacksmith (he has the means to remove the convicts leg-iron) it also seems a fitting occupation for the man that Dickens depicts. Being a blacksmith is hard and requires determination, commitment and skill, yet no formal learning. So Joe is seen as a fool to those around him, in particular his wife, and Pip's sister Mrs Joe Gargery. Pip and Joe's relationships with Mrs Joe are very important and will be discussed later. Pip strives to become a 'gentleman'; however, he learns through his own suffering and that of people who are important to him what is truly means to be a gentleman. Pip not only becomes obsessed with this goal; he also conjures the idea that being a gentleman entails having so great an amount of money that you need not work for a living. Money plays a large part in the novel and in particular the lack of money or 'portable property'. Pip has the image of a stereotypical 'gentleman' embedded into his mind; a typical gentleman has fine clothes, eats and drinks extravagantly and lives a life of idleness. These gentlemen do not have the bad stigmas of the working class, such as rough hands and clumsy boots. To be a gentleman means not only having money, but also being educated into the rules which govern gentlemanly behaviour. ...read more.


One thing that is repeated many times throughout the novel is the idea that Joe is not concerned with money. As was stated earlier Joe did not want a premium for Pip and has very little interest with money. Indeed, Joe's lack of caring for money makes him feel he has no need for secrecy - unlike many other characters in the book. Chapter twenty-two is where Pip first gets the illusion that a series of co-incidences must be linked to Miss Havisham and she is plotting to marry Estella with Pip. When Jaggers arrives from London bringing news of Pip's great expectations it is clear that Pip is excited. 'My name' he said, 'is Jaggers, and I am a lawyer in London. I am pretty well known. I have unusual business to transact with you, and I commence by explaining that it is not of my originating. If my advice had been asked, I should not have been here. It was not asked, and you see me here. What I have to do as the confidential agent of another, I do. No less, no more. Finding that he could not see us very well from where he sat, he got up, and threw one leg over the back of a chair and leaned upon it; thus having one foot on the seat of the chair, and one foot on the ground. 'Now, Joseph Gargery, I am the bearer of an offer to relieve you of this young fellow your apprentice. You would not object to cancel his indentures, at his request and for his good? You would want nothing for so doing?' 'Lord forbid that I should want anything for not standing in Pip's way,' said Joe, staring. 'Lord forbidding is pious, but not to the purpose,' returned Mr Jaggers. 'The question is, would you want anything? Do you want anything?' 'The answer is,' returned Joe sternly, 'No.' ...read more.


I asked for a cooling drink, and the dear hand that gave it me was Joe's. I sank back on my pillow after drinking, and the face that looked so hopefully and tenderly upon me was the face of Joe.' The repetition of the word, 'Joe' shows just how much Pip needs his unconditional love. Pip describes Joe in the above paragraph as a great carer who is there for Pip's every possible need. Emotive words such as 'tenderly' and 'hopefully' show just how close Pip feels to Joe once again. Pip begins to speak to Joe and expects Joe to be angry and this would be justified, however, he is totally overwhelmed by Joe's unconditional love. Not only does Joe care for Pip greatly, but also he also generously pays off his debts with not a single thought of being paid back. This once again highlights Joe's lack of care in matters involving money and his love and care. Pip eventually does return to the forge and many things have changed. It is now described as a place of peace, innocence and contentment. Joe's marriage to Pip enforces the message to Pip that he is unable to undo the mistakes of his life. One can assume that he would have been both happy and respectable if he would have stayed in the village and married Biddy, the women who truly understood him. The role of Joe Gargery in Great Expectations is one of honesty, kindness and caring. Pip's education is complete with the acknowledgment that Joe is a 'gentle Christian man'. Pip's eyes are not fully open. He is no longer trapped by his distorting illusions, and he is able to observe the values that Joe has represented throughout the novel are a much firmer foundation for life than the life of extravagance he has experienced in London. It is with no doubt, that I state: Joe is the novel's true gentleman. Mufadal Jiwaji - 10T WPJR 02/05/2007 1 ...read more.

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