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Great Expectations

Charles Dickens

Character Analysis Mrs. Joe

Abusive and self-important, Mrs. Joe appears to be total evil; however, some of her behavior is understandable. When she was twenty, before this story begins, she was left alone with a helpless infant brother who was not even weaned. By the time the reader is introduced to her, she has already buried two parents and five brothers and has no husband, and hence, no means to support herself. Joe solves that by marrying her. However, because of all the loss in her life early on, she fears abandonment and wants security, so her focus is survival. She seeks it through power and wealth and unconsciously communicates these values to Pip. Joe alludes to her fear of abandonment when he notes that she does not want Joe to better himself. That would take away her power in handling the business end of things in their relationship, and may even give Joe the opportunity to leave her.