Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 18-19

Joe's emotional depth is beautifully revealed in these chapters. "Joe laid his hand upon my shoulder with the touch of a woman. I have often thought of him since, like the steam-hammer, that can crush a man or pat an eggshell, in his combination of strength with gentleness." Joe is comfortable with both sides of his emotions and he is clear about his priorities in life. The man's heart is breaking at losing Pip: ">Dickens shows this when Joe scoops his eyes trying not to cry and silently grips his knees as he sits in front of the fire struggling to control his emotions. His fierce love for Pip is seen when he is ready to take Jaggers apart for insinuating that any amount of money could ever replace Pip. Yet the gentleness returns immediately when Pip takes him aside to calm him.

It is unclear who wins the prize for boorishness in these chapters: Pip or Pumblechook. The connection between these two is that at least for part of the book, they are very much alike. Pip, in coming into property, becomes just like Pumblechook. Pumblchook falls all over Pip, constantly asking "May I" and trying to shake his hand. He feeds him, offers to take care of Joseph in his "deficiency," and twists the memories of Pip's childhood to represent himself as sporting with the infant Pip and playing their "boyish games of sums." Pumblechook even remarks of Mrs. Joe, "let us never be blind to her faults of temper," in his attempts to ingratiate himself to Pip. He also suggests that investing capital in his business would be welcomed especially because, as he reminds Pip, he is "the humble instrument of leading up to this." Pumblechook never misses a moment to take the credit for something and the way he treats someone changes with their financial status. This foreshadows a similar change when Pip is a gentleman.

Pip observes how money changes things: how much nicer Mr. Trabb, the tailor, treats him and how much trouble Trabb's boy gets into when he is not respectful enough to Pip. At home, Pip's behavior is pompous and snobbish. While he has moments of sadness, for example, when he feels he will miss his room, he spends his time being peevish to Biddy and Joe. Pip is irritable when they are sad at his leaving, and he is irritable when they are happy for his good fortune. There is no pleasing him. He is condescending to Biddy in his desire to improve Joe and cannot understand that Joe is worthy of respect. Biddy's response to him, while appropriate, merely infuriates Pip. He is projecting onto them his own base behaviors, and instead of seeing how badly he is acting, he convinces himself they are the ones who are jealous and behaving badly. Biddy shows true dignity, restraint, and compassion when she kindly defends Joe, apologizes to Pip, and tells Pip her feelings toward him will always be the same. In a brilliant yet subtle way, however, she lets him know that he is wrong and that even though he is a gentleman, he has no right to misjudge people and treat them badly. Pip is almost sickening when he magnanimously "forgives" Biddy. The extent of his delusions is apparent when he thinks that even the cattle in the field view him with a new level of respect. The struggle between good and evil in him is evident in the moments when Pip has second thoughts about his behavior, such as when he ponders getting out of the coach and going home to say a better good-bye. However the shallowness of his character at this point in his life wins out. Waiting until it is too late to go back, he shrugs off personal responsibility and "overcomes" his moment of goodness.

Glossary

Timon of Athens and Coriolanus two of Shakespeare's plays. The hero of the first is known for speaking abusively and the hero of the second, the beadle, is known for arrogance.

settle a long wooden bench with a back and armrests.

subterfuge any plan, action, or device used to hide one's true objective or evade a difficult or unpleasant situation. When Jaggers discounts Wopsle's conclusions about a murder Wopsle is discussing, the rest of the people listening start to question whether Wopsle has an ulterior motive in drawing the conclusions he has.

Brag is a good dog, but Holdfast is a better a proverb meaning that silence is better than boasting.

expostulatory having to do with an earnest objecting.

obtruded offered or forced upon others unasked.

the rich man and the kingdom of Heaven Pip is uncomfortable because the clergyman in church reads this Bible passage right after Pip finds out he has come into wealth. The Bible reference is Matthew 19:24: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God."

the change come so oncommon plump a change coming so suddenly and all at once. Joe is commenting on how the news of Pip's expectations just caught him off guard at first, but after a night's sleep he is dealing better with it.

collation a light meal.

apostrophising the fowl the British spelling of the word "apostrophizing," which means the addressing of someone or something, as in a speech or play. Pumblechook is speaking to the chicken that he is about to eat, about Pip's good fortune.

hand-portmanteau a traveling case or bag.

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