Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 10-12

Mrs. Joe feels threatened when Joe is summoned to Satis House without her. Her insecurity and upset at the loss of control is evident in her angry house-cleaning that night. Mrs. Joe derives her power from knowing every detail of the world around her, running everything, and reinforcing to Joe that he could never survive without her. She does this because she fears abandonment and being alone again as she was before Joe married her. If Joe handles his visit to Miss Havisham without her, Mrs. Joe fears he will think he can handle the rest of their life without her. She becomes fierce and angry because her dominance, and hence, her security, is threatened.

The dynamic between Pip and Estella that will operate for most of the novel is firmed up in these chapters. She humiliates him and tries to make him cry. He refuses to give her that power even though she makes him cry on the inside. The interesting element is her enthusiastic response when he bests the pale young gentleman in a fistfight. She is flushed with delight and lets him kiss her. There is a streak of the wild in her, and for all her calm indifference, violent emotions touch something within her.

Miss Havisham continues to operate from her agenda of revenge, though there are moments such as when Pip sings the song, "Old Clem," that she seems to enjoy him. She seems upset when she realizes one day that Pip is getting too old for play. Her willingness to reward Pip with his apprenticeship to Joe is puzzling and one has to wonder if it was meant as a reward or a death sentence. Now that Pip is obsessed with the beautiful Estella, apprenticing him in an occupation that will only make him more coarse seems to be the ultimate revenge, especially when Pip has already expressed a desire for education.

Other elements seen before continue here. Pip's repressed anger flares when he dreams of pulling the linchpin out of Pumblechook's chaise-cart, and he rages inside whenever Pumblechook rumples his hair. The hair-rumpling tag will be repeated through the book. Gratitude for being brought up by hand, the fantasy element with Miss Havisham as the Witch of the place, Miss Havisham's finger movements, waxwork appearance, and not wanting to know about days of the week, all continue as well.

Some new elements are introduced, including the large burly man with the soap-scented hands who bites his forefinger, and the description of the wedding cake with the references to black fungus, cobwebs, spiders, and beetles. The soap-scented man will surface again shortly in the novel and it is a character tag to watch for. Pip's comment that he was unaware that the man would be important to him foreshadows the role the man will soon play in his life. The spider and web references will continue through the book, especially in relation to Bentley Drummle. Also, spiders and the webs they weave to draw in and control their victims, serve as a metaphor throughout the story for the hold Satis House and its occupants have on Pip.

Some social commentaries are evident. Just as Dickens' mother wanted him to keep working to bring in money — the greed of parents who benefit at their children's expense — Mrs. Joe is hoping to reap some financial gain from Pip's stay with Miss Havisham. Dickens notes the different behaviors of the social classes when Pip decides the burly man on the stairs at Miss Havisham's is not a doctor because a doctor would have had a "quieter and more persuasive manner." The burly man's comment about having experience with boys and that they are a bad set of fellows conveys a view in society that children are not to be valued or cherished, but punished and controlled.

Glossary

one low-spirited dip-candle and no snuffers dip candles were cheap, quickly burning candles that smoked a lot from the long-burned wick they left. To avoid the smoke, the wicks needed to be trimmed with a special tool called snuffers. Pip indicates that it is hard to study at Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's school even if you want to because the room is lit by only one of these candles, making a book hard to read.

public-house an inn or tavern. In Pip's time these were the hotels and restaurants for travelers.

ophthalmic steps ophthalmic means having to do with the eye in some way. The stranger in the Jolly Bargemen eyes Pip very closely and for some time. Pip does not recall anyone ever taking such ophthalmic steps with him, in other words, eyeing him so closely, before.

two One-Pound notes one-pound notes went out of circulation in England in 1821 because they were so easily and so often forged. This piece of information sets the timing for this part of the novel before 1821. It is also interesting because later in the novel the reader learns that Compeyson and Magwitch were arrested for forgery, though Dickens never confirms if they forged these notes.

pervade to pass through or spread through.

toady fawning, overly interested and obedient to someone to the point of being obviously a liar and actually uncaring.

ginger and sal volatile this was a form of smelling salts used then especially to revive ladies who passed out or became hysterical. It was a mixture of ammonium carbonate scented with dried ginger. This is used much by Raymond to calm Miss Camilla during the night when she gets so "nervous" worrying about relatives like Miss Havisham.

myrmidons of Justice this is a reference to Homer's Iliad. The Myrmidons were followers of Achilles. Here Pip simply means "policemen." He is afraid he will be arrested for fighting with the pale young gentleman at Miss Havisham's.

garden-mould dirt, soil, earth.

Old Clem an early Pope, St. Clement (who died around the year 100), who was patron saint of blacksmiths. Blacksmiths sang this song about him.

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