What are the attitudes of Jaggers and Wemmick toward money in the novel Great Expectations?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Jaggers is mercenary and believes in the power of money; Wemmick is frugal out of necessity. 

When Mr. Jaggers arrives on the Forge to announce Pip's "Great Expectations," he explains that Pip is to come to London to be educated as a gentleman. Since Pip will no longer be Joe's apprentice, Mr. Jaggers offers Joe money and does not understand when Joe becomes "pugilistic" as he repeats his offer with the threat of not making another in the future. Joe is insulted that Mr. Jaggers believes that money can compensate him for the loss of the boy he loves.
Upon Pip's arrival in London he again witnesses how Mr. Jaggers prioritizes money. As people who have been waiting for him rush toward him he questions whether they have the money to pay for his services. Repeatedly, he demands, "Have you paid Wemmick?"

The clerk of Mr. Jaggers, John Wemmick, differs greatly from Mr. Jaggers. His interest in money is out of necessity, not greed. Apparently, Mr. Jaggers does not pay Wemmick a living wage because when he visits Newgate prison, Wemmick relieves those condemned to die of their valuable items out of necessity. Wemmick advises Pip to acquire "portable property," also. He urges Pip to acquire Magwitch's pocketbook, but Pip refuses.
Despite this attitude, Wemmick is not materialistic. He has a small castle with a cannon and other things, as well as animals and a garden constructed to entertain his aged father.

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Great Expectations

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