As a mother figure, we would expect her to be a stereotypical Victorian Woman. Not only would she have to do all the domestic work, but also care and nurture her children, or in this case Pip. However, this is not quite the case with Mrs Joe. In many cases, when a mother brings up her child “by hand,” she would care and nurture for her child with a lot of love. Mrs Joe however, has adopted a different style of bringing up Pip, “by hand”. She hits and slaps Pip, to bring him into line, and there is no evidence in the story that shows Mrs Joe loves Pip like she is expected to.
This distant relationship is shown in the above quote. As Mrs Joe has an apron full of needles and pins, Pip cannot get close to her physically, and so this image of a young child clinging to its mother’s apron, is lost. This shows that as a woman in the Victorian times, this expectation of caring and nurturing your child with love is highly expected, but Dickens’ has created a character that has completely overturned any expectation. As mentioned before, the image of a Victorian Woman is very stereotypical, but in Dickens’ book, this is reversed because in ch 22 we see Mrs Pocket doing the total opposite.
Although we do not see her or anyone do the housework, we can assume that because of the wealth her and her husband have that hired help is doing the domestic work. In the family, there are a number of young children who need to be nurtured by their mother, but always seem to be handed to the nannies, while she does something or the other, like reading a book about class. A subject that seems very important to her, maybe because of her up bringing in the higher-class society. “Mrs Pocket was sitting on a garden chair under a tree, reading, with her
legs upon another garden chair; and Mrs Pocket’s two nursemaids, were looking about them while the children played” pg 186. The dependence on money is probably the main factor of how high a persons position is in society. This shows that Victorian Woman of high class know what little domestic work they have to do, and this is all due to their great wealth that they have. The dependence on money, and position in society is linked, represented by other various Victorian Women in the book.
Mrs Joe seemed to be very excited about the fact that Pip had been invited over to a rich lady’s house (Miss Havisham), and immediately questioned him about how it went, after his first meeting with her. She thought that because of Pip meeting with her, maybe she could have some kind of “connection” with her, and the higher class. Ch 8 “With that she pounced upon me, like an eagle on a lamb, and my face was squeezed into wooden bowls in sinks, and my head was put under water butts, and I was soaped and kneaded, and towelled… ” pg 52.
This shows that she wanted to make a good impression, to make herself look good through Pip, by how neat and well he looked, because of her efforts. A woman of a low class feels the need to know a person of much higher status than them, because they know about the great amount of luxury, the higher class live in, and the amount of wealth they have which could lead them (the lower class) to have a brighter future. Finally, we learn about Molly, Clara, and Miss Skiffins. Molly, as we soon find out is Estella’s mother, a former convict and now Jaggers’ housekeeper. This makes Estella’s position in society lower because of her family.
Not much is known about her. Clara, Herbert’s wife is someone we can assume as being like Biddy, but not at all influential upon Pip, like Biddy. Finally Miss Skiffins, Wemmick’s wife is also one of the characters we know very little about, but looks after Wemmick’s father, the stereotypical image of a housewife is shown in “Great Expectations” very well. Usually a female, a housekeeper, is one who obeys her master, and does not intrude in what is going on in her master’s affairs. This is shown in Molly and Jaggers relationship, although she has to do this as Jaggers is doing this as a favour.
So as shown, there are many sides to a Victorian woman in this novel, and a few of the main characters that are influential on Pip, are very cold hearted, (Estella, Miss Havisham and Mrs Joe). I believe that Miss Havisham is so pitiless and spiteful that she adopted a young girl to seek out revenge on all men, just because of what happened to her. I also think that this book explores the many sides of a Victorian Woman very well, because the stereotypical image of Victorian Women being those who stay at home and do all the domestic work is overturned.
1)*According to Great Expectations what is a “Gentlemen”? In Great Expectations the word “Gentlemen” is shown in many different ways by different characters. You can tell this by the things they say, what they do and what others say about them. The main people who show this are Pip, Joe and Magwitch. Pip Pumblechook – Throughout the rest of the novel, he will shamelessly take credit for Pip’s rise in social status, even though he has nothing to do with it, since Magwitch, not Miss Havisham, is Pip’s secret benefactor. Drummle
In his mind, Pip has connected the ideas of moral, social, and educational advancement so that each depends on the others. The coarse and cruel Drummle, a member of the upper class, provides Pip with proof that social advancement has no inherent connection to intelligence or moral worth. Drummle’s negative example helps Pip to see the inner worth of characters such as Magwitch and Joe, and eventually to discard his immature fantasies about wealth and class in favor of a new understanding that is both more compassionate and more realistic.