She hates the fact that she is just a “blacksmith’s wife” and being forced to look after Pip. She probably wants to lead a good life in upper class England. Thus threatening Pip, when she says: And he had better play there,”… “or I’ll work him. ” She threatens Pip to behave, obviously hoping for a sum of Miss Havisham’s large fortune. Mrs Joe Gargery is purposely made to be violent and despised by the reader. What makes you hate her at first is the nasty weapon, “Tickler”.
Which does not tickle as it is a “wax-ended cane”. Mrs Joe uses it to enforce her “rules” to Pip and even Joe. Joe and Pip even call her states of rage as the “Ram-Page, the “Ram” which is a male sheep which is very violent. This is all an example of Dickens’ misogyny- portraying women in lower classes as violent and a burden. Towards the end or “Part 1” in the novel, Mrs Joe is violently, brutally and shamelessly attacked by Orlick.
The reader feels little positive feelings towards her near-death.
We are later shocked at the new positive outlook on life and new “friendship” with Orlick – after their row at the forge. This relates to Estella’s horrible marriage where she mentions, “I have been bent and broken but- I hope – into a better shape,” meaning that she has been physically wounded but emotionally open to her wrongs in life which is the same as Mrs Joe. Biddy is one of the only characters that the reader can completely sympathize with; she earns our utmost respect through her kindness and support towards Pip, Joe and Mrs Joe.
She is modest and the idealised version of womanhood in Victorian England. Our first impressions of Biddy are a ‘scruffy,’ well-learnt girl, she grows throughout the novel in smaller ways to the other three characters. Her main role in “Great Expectations” is that of a facilitator, to let men ‘command’ them, such as Mrs Joe was supposed to. Biddy is a distant relative of Mr Wopsle; a family friend of the Gargery’s, her Great-Aunt holds a tuition class for the less fortunate children of the neighbourhood.
However, she is old and senile so all she does is stay awake for a few minutes, which during this time the children play with themselves, and when she sleeps Biddy teaches the neighbourhood children the words and letters. Young Pip often refers to Biddy as his ‘first teacher. ‘ Biddy’s main change in “Great Expectations” is when her Great-Aunt dies just after Mrs Joe was brutally attacked with a leg-iron; she is then allowed to care for Mrs Joe for the Gargery’s. She cares for Mrs Joe until she dies a few years later. By doing this she allows Joe a life in some way, as she cared for Mrs Joe.
She later provides Joe with an heir, which Mrs Joe seemed incapable of. Her baby child named after Pip to show the Gargery’s love for him. Biddy is used to show the reader of Pip’s rapidly growing lust for Estella and beginning discontent for this honest job at the forge. More proof that she is a facilitator is that Pip turns to Biddy for help for a better education so he can impress Estella. The reader gets a taste of his desperation and Biddy offers some great advice, but reluctantly agrees to help. She is pleased Pip has confidence in her.
Joe Gargery obviously finds her as a wife he never had, “a blessing to the house,” says Joe, glad he is not abused by Mrs Joe, and extremely happy with his new-born daughter. Biddy helps Joe and Pip in many ways, such as teaching them both to read and write. When Joe couldn’t write she wrote letters on his behalf. Biddy is used as a social conscience in “Great Expectations,” empathising that Pip has forgotten his roots and how he has abandoned Joe and Mrs Joe snobbishly to live an expensive and luxurious life in London, without even visiting the Gargery’s often.
In chapter thirty-five, Biddy reminds Pip slowly about Joe: By degrees she led me into more temperate talk, and she told me how Joe loved me, and how Joe never complained of anything,-she didn’t say, of me; she had no need; I knew what she meant,-but ever did his duty in his way of life, with a strong hand, a quiet tongue, and a gentle heart. Chapter 35, Page 262 She reminds Pip that Joe has always been thinking about him and so on, she is married to Joe at that time and is doing her ‘duty’ towards him as a housewife.
This conversation changes how the reader feels towards Pip and sees what social life is doing towards him, even Biddy and Joe Gargery sees how much he has changed so thus calling him “Mr Pip,” instead of just Pip. Estella in “Great Expectations” is a seemingly cold and heartless abuser, when in fact she is also a victim. She is the same age as Pip and Biddy so Dickens can easily compare how they change over the course of the novel, the three have similar abusive childhoods, Pip and Biddy being brought up ‘by hand’ and Estella mentally scarred by Miss Havisham during her rough childhood in Satis House.
The difference between Estella and Pip is that Estella has no supportive figure in her life whereas Pip has Joe for company. Estella means ‘Star’ in Spanish, this symbolises that she is an unreachable ‘goal’ for Pip, and that she is cold, distant and for older Pip, unable to survive without. Many admire her beauty and go after her, such and Pip, Drummle and many others. In Satis house she often carries a candle to empathise she is like a star in the darkness, and that there is a little spark of kindness in her.
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