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In Great Expectations, what is the chief fault of Herbert's father?

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usduckie | eNotes Newbie

Posted November 13, 2013 at 3:42 AM via web

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In Great Expectations, what is the chief fault of Herbert's father?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 13, 2013 at 8:37 AM (Answer #1)

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Hired to be the tutor of Pip in his "great expectations," Mr. Matthew Pocket is an erudite gentlemen with only one fault:  he cannot handle his domestic affairs. Ironically, in theory, Mr. Pocket is very competent in this area, but in reality, he is incapable of maintaining any order in his home.

Mr. Pocket was out lecturing; for he was a most delightful lecturer on domestic economy, and his treatises on the management of children and servants were considered the very best text-books on those themes.

In Chapter XXII, for instance, Mrs. Pocket, who is quite helpless, spends her time reading about titles; as she buries herself in her book, her children fall about her, tumbling over Mrs. Pocket's footstool. The maid Flopson finds herself retrieving the children from under her feet or rescuing them from choking on nutcrackers.

“Good God!” cried Mr. Pocket, in an outbreak of desolate desperation. “Are infants to be nutcrackered into their tombs, and is nobody to save them?”

This contrast in Mr. Pocket's persona as a man of letters and his frustrated and inept persona as a husband provides comic relief in this tale of the trials and tribulations of maturing. In addition, there is a suggestion that Pip may not become any more productive than the Pockets. 

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