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Published: 07-12-2019

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Joe Gargery: Ironical Goodness in "Great Expectations"

Within Charles Dickens’s Fantastic Expectations, Joe Gargery is presented as the epitome of human compassion and kindness, the moral center of the novel. He is a strange mixture of wisdom, stupidity and generosity, being the most human of all the characters with his strengths and weaknesses, which the readers grasp by reading in between the lines of Pip’s description, Joe’s personal actions and his interactions. ‘Joe’ is a widespread name, and Dickens’ clever play with nomenclature instantly makes us see Joe as a quick, simple and typical man. Dickens’ has presented Joe as a paradox, ‘a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness’, obtaining a gentle nature that contradicts the toughness the blacksmith demands for his job. He is described as physically strong, nonetheless, we are produced to see how he suffers through his wife’s physical abuse.

Joe’s manner of speaking indicates his slow brain and illiteracy, calling epileptic fits ‘purple leptic’ and taking time with his speech. His dullness and stupidity is apparent when he keeps talking, stunned by the disappearance of Pip’s bread, staring at him in ‘wonder and consternation’. Even so, the truth that he is aware that Mrs. Joe will not be satisfied if he becomes a scholar for fear he may possibly rise, shows that he isn’t dull in all accounts. He is conscious of Mrs. Joe’s harsh character, yet calls her a ‘fine figure of a woman’ repeatedly, seeing the positive side of her that chose to raise Pip by hand. His statement that ‘it had been lonesome then’ and ‘living here alone’ implies that loneliness may possibly have driven him to get married and he appears to have consciously made a choice to tolerate Mrs. Joe rough remedy.

By way of his actions towards Pip, Joe is shown to be a generous and sort character, taking in a boy he isn’t even connected to by blood. Getting a blacksmith, it is apparent that Joe is of a low operating-class and doesn’t earn as a lot, yet he tell Pip’s sister to ‘bring the poor tiny child’ with her and that ‘there’s area for him at the forge!’ Joe wishes he could take the Tickler ‘all on myself’ for Pip and we see how much really like and care he has for him. He is a nurturing figure, lecturing Pip about ‘Bolting’ as he is concerned for his ‘elth’ and taking Pip on his back when it began sleeting throughout their search of the convicts. Joe’s morality is apparent when he reproves Pip for ‘bolting’ the bread, and it appears to influence Pip, which is why he feels guilty and ‘tenderness of conscience’ only in reference to Joe. Joe is an emotionally sturdy character, contemplating how he was in a position to cope with a dysfunctional family as a youngster, and now with his wife’s verbal attacks. He is able to take in the emotional blows with no breaking down.

Enduring Mrs. Joe’s abusive treatment also indicates how he is a submissive man with no ego or power. He loves Pip however he in no way stand up for him against Mrs. Joe. We take this as cowardice in his part, however, later, when Dickens has Joe inform his own story, we are made to comprehend and understand what drives Joe. He endures as a lot as he does for he is ‘dead afeerd of not carrying out what’s right by a woman’, not wanting to hurt Mrs. Joe and not have her ‘drudging and slaving like his mother. This shows his sweet temperament, tenderness and the respect he has for women. Joe is a genuinely compassionate man, even towards the convict who admits to stealing meals from his residence. Joe says that the convict is ‘welcome to it’ and that ‘we wouldn’t have you starved’ no matter what his crime. His attitude towards the memory of his father is rather naïve and blind for even even though he ‘hammered’ him, he believes his father ‘were that good in his hart’. Nonetheless, it points out the nobility of his character and forgiveness. Joe’s powerlessness and submissiveness is evident in a lot of occasions when he is unable to shield Pip from Mrs. Joe’s beating, only able to ‘quietly’ fence him right after he’s been thrown at him, when ‘he had been place upon the kitchen doorstep’, and when he can only offer you Pip comfort by giving him gravy, not even chicken.

On a single hand, Joe is presented as a weak character, but apart from his tender heart, we are shown other very good qualities as properly. In his working garments, Joe is a ‘characteristic-looking blacksmith’ whilst in his Sunday’s greatest, he is compared to a scarecrow, which depicts how Joe is comfy in his blacksmith clothes for he is unpretentious, and not hypocritical. He does as he is told when the soldiers barge in and tell him to repair the handcuff, but there are two viewpoints to this 1 that he is obedient and very easily dragged about, nonetheless in a great light, we see him the sharpest and most expert searching at this point of the story, hardworking and skilled.
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