Discuss the importance of Joe Gargery and the life of the forge in the presentation of the central Issues of Great Expectations. “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens is a novel about a young boy, named Pip, whos expectations are raised from being a blacksmiths apprentice to being a gentleman after he Is adopted by an unknown benefactor. As a result of this Pip leaves his childhood home of the forge and his father figure, Joe Gargery. The novel explores the key themes of corruption of money, love and heartbreak, and pride.
The following essay aims to discuss the importance f Joe Gargery and the life of the forge in relation to the key themes of the novel. The theme of corruption of money is seen mostly in the main character Pip. Throughout the novel Pip experiences the corruption of money in various forms. In his childhood he is familiar with a man called Mr Pumblechook, a man who has plentiful money and generally flaunts this fact. In these early stages Pip sees how money has corrupted this man and believes this behaviour to be ridiculous.
However upon receiving his expectations we see Pip acting in the same frivolous manner showing ow easily he has been corrupted by money. Even before receiving his expectations Pip wishes to be a gentleman. This Is only after spending time with Miss Havisham a rich woman who lives nearby. Joe Gargery Is the opposite of Pip In this respect. Though he Is only working class, and therefore wouldn’t have much money, he Is uncorrupted by money and is the moral compass of the story. There are many points in the novel where dickens shows how Joe is unaffected by the corruption of money.
At the start of the novel Pip steals a pie for an escaped convict upon his capture the onvict claims he stole the pie from the blacksmiths. Joe is unconcerned about this, and the expense of the pie, “God knows you’re welcome to it – so far as it was ever mine… We don’t know what you have done, but we wouldnt have you starve to death for it” this shows he does not want people to suffer over a matter that he deems so small in the scheme of things and is not Judgemental of the convict.
Later when Pip stops visiting Miss Havisham Joe is given money by her In return for Pip’s help. Joe does not keep the money however and Instead passes It on to his wife Mrs Joe In rder to appease her. It Is a large amount of money he Is given and Joe would rather see it used so that others may be happy. When Mr Jaggers comes to tell Pip of his fortunes Joe is offered payment in return for Pip. He refuses the money as he does not want to be bribed and would rather Pip make his own choices, “Pip is that harty welcome to go free with his services, to honour and fortun… f you think as money can make compensation to me” this shows that he cares only about what Pip wants rather than the fact he is losing a labourer. Towards the end of the novel Pip falls into erious debt and illness. Before this time Pip had been cold towards Joe, despite this Joe goes to help take care of Pip and pays off his large debt showing that he cares more for his family then he does for money. These incidents show Joe’s lack of concern over money and also shows that he would rather see It go towards helping others rather than keeping It for himself so that he may have more expensive things.
The forge is an extension of Joe and so emulates him in being uninfluenced by forge is a central place in the village life as everyone needs the forge for something. This means that although it is a working class establishment it is more important and central than many other working class trades. Due to this, though the lifestyle is not reliant on it, more money goes into the forge. Despite this it is still uninfluenced. The Gargery family take in Pip when his parents die as Mrs Joe is his only remaining relative.
This helps to illustrate that the lifestyle maintained at the forge is uncaring of monetary issues, such as having to care for young child. The forge is rarely closed and on the occasions that it is, it is a sign that a major event is about to occur. An example of this happening is when Joe goes to see Miss Havisham. This is an example of how the forge is unaffected by money as it is closed, even though there is likely plentiful work to do, to allow Joe to go and see Miss Havisham for Pip’s benefit.
The corruption of money is what causes Pip to leave one of the places he is happiest. Love is an important theme in relation to Joe. Despite Mrs Joe’s harshness and domestic abuse Joe is still very much in love with her. After receiving money from Miss Havisham Joe gives it to Mrs Joe in order to appease her since she was not nvited, “into the hands of his sister Mrs J. GargerY’ this shows Joe’s desire to keep Mrs Joe happy due to his love of her. Her attack shocks Joe and it seems as though he feels guilty for not being there to protect her.
Mrs Joe’s death further on in the novel further shocks Joe and leaves him in a state of melancholy, “you knowed her when she were a fine fgure of a-” this shows his inability to speak due to his grief. It also shows his love for her as this is a phrase he often uses to describe her “She were a fine fgure of a woman”. It is many years before Joe falls in love again with Biddy. Joe is a very loving character and seems to be the embodiment of love. Before falling in love with Biddy, he loved her anyway for her kindness and help to Mrs Joe while she was ill.
Joe’s love also extends to Pip who he helped to raise and was also best friend to. Pip’s betrayal of Joe by leaving does not affect Joe’s love for him and Joe continues to aid Pip in every way he can including paying his debts and looking after him when he was ill “Ever the best of friends… a receipt for the debt and costs on my which o ad been arrested” this shows his compassion and how much he cares for Pip. This is not returned in kind by Pip who all but forgets Joe and tries to avoid him at all costs. The forge is also important to the theme of love.
It is here that Pip grows up in the loving environment of the forge where he is given a good home and a future Job. Within the forge we also Joe defend Mrs Joe after she is insulted by Orlick, he doesn’t allow her to fght him herself showing he is probably concerned for her safety. Upon leaving the forge for his great expectations Pip is upset and desires to turn back ultiple times showing his love of the forge and the people there, “l deliberated with an aching heart whether I would not get down when we changed horses, and walk back” this shows how he is torn between his expectations and his home.
He is also often torn between the simplistic life of the forge and the sophisticated life at Satis House. Pride is another important theme to the novel and its lack of control over Joe helps to illustrate his goodness. Though Joe is proud of himself he is not proud in the sense of thinking himself above others, “he may be too proud to let anyone take him fa place that he is competent to fill” this helps illustrate he is proud of his profession even if it is considered low. He is proud of his accomplishments but above or wrong.
For example Joe is proud that Pip has managed to get an education however he is also proud of Pip for going off to be a gentleman. These again are two different types of pride. In the first example he is proud of Pips accomplishments, “what a scholar you are! “, in the second it seems as though he is proud for Pip’s sake, “heartily congratulated me; but there was a certain touch of sadness in their ongratulations”, it is as though Pip needs to see that Joe is proud of him in order to follow his plans through. Joe wants what is best for Pip.
The forge also relates to pride. The forge is used by everyone in the town including the soldiers however it remains simplistic and is run by only the one man. Though the forge, and Joe by extension, have plenty to be proud of they remain simple and loving, giving help where needed. This attitude also helps, in a way, to stop Pip from giving up his apprenticeship at the beginning, “any good that intermixed itself with my pprenticeship came of plain contented Joe, and not of restlessly aspiring discontented me” this shows his desire to make Joe proud.
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