In Chapter 2 of Great Expectations, how does Dickens arouse our sympathies for certain characters?In Chapter 1, what is surprising about the narrative point of view Dickens has adopted?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter 2, Dickens arouses the reader's sympathies for Pip and Joe Gargery at the expense of Mrs. Joe.  Mrs. Joe is rough and domineering, while the two males are passive and gentle, "fellow-sufferers" under Mrs. Joe's tyrannical hand.  Mrs. Joe is described as "not a good-looking woman...(who) must have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand".  She wears "a coarse apron" all the time, blaming the fact that she has to wear it on Pip and Joe, because of all the work they cause her.  The apron has a "square impregnable bib in front", symbolic of the suppression of her womanhood and all womanly qualities.  Pip, as established in the previous chapter, is small and insignificant, and Joe is described as "a mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy-going, foolish, dear fellow - a sort of Hercules in strength, and also in weakness".  Before the tempestuous nature of Mrs. Joe, the two try to get by as best they can together (Chapter 2).

In Chapter 1, the narrative point of view adopted by Dickens is throught Pip's eyes.  This is a little surprising, because Dickens goes out of his way to present Pip as an insignificant character.  Pip is an orphan who "never saw (his) father or (his) mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them".  Five of his infant siblings are dead, and he himself is portrayed as a "small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry".  Pip is "undersized, for (his) years", and completely "helpless" and terror-stricken in the hands of the convict.  It is a bit surprising that such a weak, completely vulnerable character would be given the important job of providing the narrative point of view of the novel (Chapter 1).

hajmola | Student


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