Biddy’s Quiet Resilience in “Great Expectations”

Categories: Great Expectations

Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" is rich with a cast of colorful and memorable characters, each playing their pivotal roles in the coming-of-age story of Pip. Among them is Biddy, a character who, at first glance, might seem to play a minor, supportive role. However, on deeper examination, Biddy's presence serves as a stark contrast to the grandeur and pretensions that surround Pip's life, grounding the narrative in humility and genuine kindness.

From the outset, Biddy is introduced as an orphan, much like Pip.

She assists Pip's sister, Mrs. Joe, in household tasks and, most importantly, in teaching Pip the basics of reading and writing. Her humble origins and gentle demeanor might easily categorize her as just another background character, but Dickens uses Biddy's simplicity as a counterpoint to the complexities and deceptions that Pip encounters as he steps into the world of wealth and high society.

While Pip's ambitions and dreams change over time, influenced by the allure of wealth and societal status as represented by characters like Estella and Miss Havisham, Biddy remains a constant.

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She is content with her station in life, finding joy in small pleasures and the honest work she undertakes. Unlike Pip, who is often caught in the tumultuous currents of desire and ambition, Biddy is anchored in a sense of self-worth that isn't dictated by societal norms.

One could argue that Biddy's role is a reflection of the genuine relationships and connections that Pip leaves behind in his relentless pursuit of "great expectations." While Pip becomes increasingly infatuated with Estella, it's Biddy who genuinely cares for him.

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She worries about the changes she sees in him, especially as he grows distant from his roots. Biddy, with her keen observation, notices the transformation in Pip's character long before he does. She serves as a mirror, reflecting back to Pip the person he once was and the values he once held dear.

Biddy's love for Pip is quiet, unassuming, and without demands – a stark contrast to Pip's infatuation with Estella, which is riddled with anxiety and insecurity. It’s this genuine concern for Pip that makes Biddy's eventual marriage to Joe Gargery, Pip’s brother-in-law, all the more poignant. Joe, like Biddy, is a character who embodies kindness, patience, and resilience. Their union is a testament to the idea that genuine goodness finds its match.

In the end, while Pip undergoes a series of revelations and transformations, Biddy's character arc is more subtle. She doesn't have the dramatic ups and downs that Pip experiences, but her journey is one of quiet resilience. She moves from being an orphaned girl, taken into the Gargery household out of necessity, to a woman who finds love and contentment in the very place she started. Biddy doesn’t need the grand revelations Pip does because she already understands the value of honesty, love, and humility.

In "Great Expectations", Dickens crafts a world where ambitions, dreams, and societal pressures often cloud one's judgment. Through characters like Estella and Miss Havisham, he explores the pitfalls of revenge, pride, and unbridled ambition. But in Biddy, Dickens offers a gentle reminder of the virtues of simplicity and genuine human connection. She may not have the "great expectations" that Pip dreams of, but she possesses something far more valuable – a contented heart and the wisdom to see people for who they truly are. In the larger tapestry of the novel, Biddy stands as a beacon of genuine warmth and unwavering authenticity.

Updated: Oct 11, 2023
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Biddy’s Quiet Resilience in “Great Expectations”. (2023, Oct 11). Retrieved from

Biddy’s Quiet Resilience in “Great Expectations” essay
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