Summary and Analysis
Chapters 26-28 - (Volume II, Chapters 7-9)
His maid is interesting, as she seems to have a wild nature that is strongly controlled by Jaggers. Her hands are powerful, the ugly scar on her wrist speaks to a violence in her past, yet she almost fearfully waits for Jaggers' every command.
Joe's visit is a nightmare for both Joe and Pip. Joe is not proud, but wants to be correct, so he is dressed in his uncomfortable Sunday clothes. He addresses Pip as "Sir," which irritates Pip. And he keeps fidgeting with his hat, which Pip refers to sarcastically in the book as the "bird's nest." Joe's lack of sophistication shows in his table manners and his assuming that his visiting the Blacking Warehouse constitutes seeing the sights of London. This warehouse, incidentally, is the horrible place Dickens had to work as a child. Joe is not a cardboard man, however, and does have opinions and angry emotions. When he is offered coffee, he accepts, but politely notes he prefers tea. He is angry with Pumblechook for going about town pretending that he was Pip's childhood playfellow, when in fact it was really Joe. It is interesting to note that Joe also adds, "though it signify little now, Sir." Joe knows things have changed, the past is past, and none of that means much anymore to Pip. Dickens infuses some humor at Pip's expense when Joe says that he would not keep a pig in their flat, and while, in saying so, Joe manages to irritate Pip, realistically, any reader would probably agree that the freedom of a pen on the open marshes would be healthier for anyone than a stifling London flat. Joe leaves with his dignity intact, delivering his message and departing quickly. He knows that he and Pip are not meant to spend time together in London and tells Pip that he will not be seen in those clothes again. They and London are not right for him, but Joe tells Pip to feel free to see him anytime on the forge. Joe correctly observes that seen there, he can be judged in a better light.
Guilt, shame, pride, snobbery — these are all running through Pip. Pip is demeaning to Herbert at Jaggers' dinner, his attitude demeans Joe during his visit, and although Pip has another moment of decency and insight when he runs after Joe, it is useless. Joe has already gone and it is too late to apologize to him. Pip has a way of waiting just long enough to not have to be honorable. And any good thoughts are again wiped away when he finds excuses not to visit Joe when he goes home to see Miss Havisham. The taint of crime continues to follow Pip when he shares a coach with two convicts. Try as he might to be upper class, Pip just cannot seem to escape his lower-class criminal connections.
capacious dumb-waiter a piece of furniture with shelves to hold sauces, silverware, and other items for dinner.
faces out of the Witches' caldron a reference to Act IV, Scene 1 of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Macbeth visits the witches as they stir their caldron, and he demands an explanation of their prophecies about him. They ask if he wants the story from them or from their masters, and he asks to see their masters. The witches promptly work their magic and a number of apparitions arise from the boiling caldron.
in the books of a neighboring upholsterer . . . a boy in boots Pip is in debt to a local interior decorator and furniture dealer. He has also hired a servant.
Provincial Amateur of Roscian renown . . . our National Bard Quintus Roscius Gallus (died 62 BC) was the greatest Roman comic actor of his time, so this reference indicates an actor of the same level of renown. Our National Bard refers to Shakespeare. Essentially, the playbill from the small theater is claiming Wopsle to be a great actor who is performing in a Shakespearean play.
a peck of orange-peel Joe's comment here indicates the audience threw a lot of orange peels, essentially expressing their dislike of the performance.
pettishly peevishly, petulantly, crossly.
bread-poultice, baize, rope-yarn, and hearthstone these references apply to the convicts that rode with Pip to the Hulks. Bread-poultice was bread soaked in hot water, put in cloth, and applied to bruises and swellings. Baize was a cheap, thick wool cloth probably used for prison clothes. Rope-yarn refers to the fact that prisoners were often put to work unraveling old rope. Hearthstone refers to stone broken up to use to whiten doorsteps and hearthstones.
the Mentor of our young Telemachus . . . Quintin Matsys . . . VERB. SAP." The waiter at the Blue Boar, who assumes Pip owes everything to Pumblechook, hands Pip this newspaper article that Pumblechook has run. Telemachus was the young son of Odysseus who was guided during his father's absence by Athene, disguised as an old friend of his father's. Quintin Matsys was a Flemish painter who supposedly began his career as a blacksmith. VERB. SAP. is a Latin abbreviation for verbum satis sapienti, meaning "a hint is enough to the wise." Pumblechook is claiming to be the great mentor and first benefactor of someone and is saying that a good hint is all they need to figure out who the young man is. He provides the hint with the reference to the Flemish painter who was first a blacksmith.