Great Expectations. How Does the Relationship Between Pip and Joe...

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Great Expectations. How Does the Relationship Between Pip and Joe Change and Develop as the Novel Goes on? What Is Dickens Saying About Society at the Time?

By | May 2006
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"Great Expectations" is set in Victorian England. It is apparent when we read the novel that Charles Dickens expressed many of his own views when writing the narrative, using a strong authorial voice. This is particularly clear when he addresses certain issues concerning the social and cultural concerns of the time, and through Pip's desire for social change. The development of the relationship between Pip and Joe is crucial in realising the complexity and importance of their relationship because their friendship is affected by many external factors which are beyond the control of the beholders. In order to explore the change and development I must also consider how society inspired Dickens to write such a powerful novel.

Initially, the relationship between Pip and Joe is portrayed as an artificial friendship, combining two people merely because they have one thing in common; they are both ‘fellow sufferers' at the hands on Mrs. Joe. Yet Pip's extreme loving views of Joe provoke the reader to start questioning such ideas,

"He was a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going,
foolish, dear fellow - a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in
weakness."

Pips recognition that Joe has strengths as well as weaknesses is further endorsed when he says;

"…can crush a man or pat an eggshell,
In his combination of strength with gentleness."

The complex range of sentences, and the extreme use of pathetic fallacy in the opening chapters are essential to consider when exploring the relationship of Pip and Joe; they suggest that like the description, Pips and Joe's relationship is also very complex and is not based on such a minor reason; that they are forced together by the fact that they are ‘fellow sufferers'.

Right from the start of the novel, we see such an effective use of symbolism that when Mrs. Joe serves Pip and Joe some bread for supper, Dickens deliberately illustrates that the two pieces of bread are...
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