Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens
Start Free Trial

Analyze this quote from Great Expectations: "Now the reality was in my hold, I only felt that I was dusty with the dust of the small coal, and that I had a weight upon my daily remembrance to which the anvil was a feather."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In this particular excerpt, Pip is ruefully reflecting on the fact that his experiences of playing for Miss Havisham at Satis House have turned him into an almighty snob. Once upon a time, he thought that when he started his blacksmith's apprenticeship with Joe, he'd be distinguished and happy. But...

See
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

In this particular excerpt, Pip is ruefully reflecting on the fact that his experiences of playing for Miss Havisham at Satis House have turned him into an almighty snob. Once upon a time, he thought that when he started his blacksmith's apprenticeship with Joe, he'd be distinguished and happy. But now he's caught a glimpse into a better world, a world of wealth and refinement, his whole attitude has changed completely, and he hates himself for it.

Home had never been a particularly pleasant place to Pip thanks to his nasty sister, but at least it was sanctified by the presence of Joe. Thanks to him, Pip had grown up to believe that the humble cottage in which he lived was much better than it actually was. That all changed the moment he first visited Satis House. Now he sees everything about his home, and his life situation in general, as coarse and common.

Now when he goes into the forge with Joe to begin his apprenticeship, Pip feels the dust of the small coal, a recognition that he feels every inch the "common, laboring boy" that Estella had always referred to him as. And the memories of those unforgettable days at Satis House weigh down on his mind so much that the anvil on which he works is as light as a feather by comparison.

Simply put, Pip cannot forget the time he spent at Satis House; it's changed his life forever, and he's having difficulty adjusting to his new role as a blacksmith's apprentice.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team