Classics Challenge – February

The prompt for this month’s A Classics Challenge concerns character. I have the easiest book in the world to choose a character from – Great Expectations. No, I still haven’t finished it! I am almost there, though, and am really enjoying it and the extremely memorable characters Dickens uses to populate his story. Pip, Magwitch, Mr. Jaggers, Herbert, Estella and Miss Havisham – who could forget them? I could easily write about any of these characters, but instead I’d like to focus on a character who seems to be tragically overlooked. First, here is the prompt for February:

Level 2
How has the character changed? Has your opinion of them altered? Are there aspects of their character you aspire to? or hope never to be? What are their strengths and faults? Do you find them believable? If not, how could they have been molded so? Would you want to meet them?

Mrs Joe Gargery. from www.barnstable.k12.ma.us.

Mrs. Joe is Pip’s sister who ‘raised him up by hand’. She is assertive, shrewish, abusive and terrifying when she’s in a snit. She hen-pecks her husband, Joe Gargery, who still thinks she is ‘a fine-figure-of-a-woman’. Pip has no feeling for her and keeps out of her way as much as possible.

Mrs. Joe slightly reminded me of certain women in my family. My mom’s side of the family are known for being a bit ornery so she was familiar to me and I thought she was a very vibrant, energetic character in the early part of the novel. When she suffered the horrible act of violence that changes her forever, I was stunned. It was almost shocking the way she is silenced and completely shut out from the remainder of the plot. I do believe Pip’s story would have been different if he’d had his sister around to oversee his journey.

Was Dickens making a point about loud, outrageous women?

What character do you remember most from Great Expectations?

9 comments / Add your comment below

  1. It’s been so long since I’ve read Great Expectations, and I can’t remember Mrs. Joe at all – or the act of violence you mention. I remember most clearly Miss Havisham and Estella – and Pip of course.

  2. This was my favourite Dickens until it was replaced by A Tale of Two Cities when I read it last year. I was always torn between dislike and pity when it came to Mrs Joe. She had a hard life but then so did Pip and Joe but they didn’t behave the way she did. I guess some people handle stresses differently and Dickens certainly showed that. He always seems to give his characters and ending he felt they deserved.

    My favourite character though was Miss Havisham. She’s hard to beat I think.

    1. You’ve given me something to think about, Karen! Mrs. Joe was definitely not a nice woman, but there is sympathy to be had for her.
      Miss Havisham is also to be pitied. Her story is so tragic!

  3. You have to love Dickens’ characters–they certainly are memorable! And their names are sometimes outrageous but fitting, too. I’ve only read David Copperfield and A Christmas Carol. Not sure how I have gone so long with having read so little. I would love to read something this year in honor of the 200 year anniversary, even though the date has just passed…

  4. I haven’t read Dickens’ Great Expectations yet. With the new adaptation airing in the next few weeks I’m sorely tempted to switch to it from Little Dorrit.
    Thank you for your post, Anbolyn. 🙂

Thank you for reading and commenting.

%d bloggers like this: