Great Expectations

Joe Gargery's Alienation as Social Commentary

In Dickens’s Great Expectations, the alienation of the amiable Joe Gargery speaks volumes about the values of high society at that time. Joe represents the epitome of friendship and love, but he is constantly out of his element when around noblemen or -women such as Miss Havisham. Through Joe’s alienation, Dickens reveals the negative aspects of 19th century British society and helps Pip to realize that he was wrong to move away from the forge.

Throughout Pip’s parentless childhood, Joe was a hero. He was always there to comfort Pip after a thrashing from the ill-tempered Mrs. Joe, and the two were “ever the best of friends”. Joe stays with the wicked Mrs. Joe and treats her well because he loves Pip and wants to stay friends with him. Once the first few chapters have passed, the reader sees Joe as the personification of loyalty and kindness. These qualities are further magnified when Mrs. Joe is paralyzed by a blow to the head while Joe and Pip are away. Even though Mrs. Joe is not able to speak or move, Joe stays by her side and cares for her until she passes away. Despite Joe’s ignorance in reading and writing, his life as a gentle blacksmith with Pip by his side leaves him wanting nothing more out of life. Pip, however,...

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