Please explain how "toadies and humbugs" applies to the Pockets.Chapter 11 of "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With typical Dickensian humor the Pockets are described by Pip:

Before I had been standing at the window five minutes, they somehow conveyed to me that they were all toadies and humbugs, but that each of them pretended not to know that the others were toadies and humbugs:  because the admission that she or he did know it, would have made him or her out to be a today or a humbug.

A toady, being a British word for a flatterer, the Pockets discuss Tom's wife, who has died without leaving "the trimmings" to the children, and Matthew who is not present, but is much like Tom.  Raymond continues the disparagement of Matthew.  These impostors then move to the next room where Miss Havisham moves around the table holding the moldy wedding cake of her youth.

A humbug, or impostor who hopes to deceive for ulterior reasons, Miss Sarah Pocket, tells Miss Havisham how well she looks.  "I do not," retorts Miss Havisham.  "I am yellow skin and bone."  Camilla is thrilled by Miss Havisham's rebuff and tell Miss Havisham that she has been so anxious about her that she herself has been ill:  "Oh, it is a weakness to be so affectionate, but I can't help it."  After much histrionics in which she feigns such love and concern for Miss Havisham, Camilla, then, attempts disparagement of Matthew Pocket who does not visit his rich relative.  But, Miss Havisham declares that he will take his place at the head of the table when she dies; she, then, points to all the toadies' stations.

As the impostors depart, "Sarah Pocket and Georgiana contended upon who should remain last" in the vain hope of becoming memorable to Miss Havisham when she makes her will.  They vie for the position and move around each other with Sarah winning and saying, "Bless you, Miss Havisham, dear!"  The false obsequiousness endures to the last, proving the Pockets "toadies and humbugs."

Read the study guide:
Great Expectations

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question