In Chapter 9-10, Why do Mrs. Joe and Pumblechook believe Pip's tale?Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

1 Answer | Add Yours

mwestwood's profile pic

mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

Uncle Pumblechook of Dickens's Great Expectations is a stereotype of the rising middle class that aspires to be wealthy and to imitate what Dickens considered a frivolous aristocracy.  In short, he is a fauner and a flatterer. Like her uncle, Mrs. Joe perceives the upper class as superior; anything that they do has justification and is only unusual to those of the lower classes.  Because of this admiration for the upper class, Pip feels that Miss Havisham will be misunderstood if he describes her realistically:

I entertained an impression that there would be something coarse and treacherous in my dragging her as she really was (to say nothing of Miss Estella)before the contemplation of Mrs. Joe.  Consequently, I said as little as I could, and had my face shoved against the wall.

When the "bullying" Uncle Pumblechook comes to tea, Pip is even more inclined to be reticent about the truth.  When Uncle Pumblechook interrogates Pip, finally Pip fabricates an elaborate tale of Miss Havisham's sitting in a velvet coach with four dogs that fought for veal cutlets out of a silver baskets.  Since Pumblechook has never been allowed into the house, and since Pip describes the room as lit only by candles, a situation with which Pumblechook is familiar, Pip's uncle verifies the tale:

"That's true, Mum....That's the state of the case, for that much I've seen myself."

Added to this truth, Mrs. Joe and Uncle Pumblechook want to believe Pip, for their awe of the aristocracy is so fatuous that they want to think they are unique in their habits and very different in their ways.

We’ve answered 317,736 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question