What do Mrs.Joe's actions and words in Chapter 7 of Great Expectations reveal or reinforce about her character?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This is the chapter where Mrs. Joe comes back from helping Pumblechook do his shopping with the exciting news that Miss Havisham wants a little boy to go and play in her house. Note the way that part of the attraction of having Pip play at Miss Havisham's house is the possible benefit that both Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe will get out of it. However, we do continue to see Mrs. Joe's opinion that she has made herself "a willing slave" to Pip in bringing him up "by hand," even when actually she has used and abused him throughout his short and miserable life. Note the excitement of Mrs. Joe and the way she cleaned Pip up to make him presentable:

With that she pounced on me, like an eagle on a lamb, and my face was squeezed into wooden bowls in sinks, and my head was put under taps of water-butts, and I was soaped, and kneaded, and towelled, and thumped, and harrowed, and rasped, until I was really quite beside myself...

The simile comparing Mrs. Joe to an eagle swooping down and seizing a lamb indicates the way in which she is a predatory and violent figure. Even in trying to make Pip presentable these aspects are clearly apparent in her character.

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