How does Dickens present the idea of compassion through the presentation of Joe in Great Expectations?
The orphaned Pip's much older brother-in-law Joe, a blacksmith, is the essence of compassion in this novel. From the start, there's no question he will welcome Pip into his home with open arms: "God bless the poor little child ... there's room for him at the forge," Joe says. During Pip's childhood, Joe befriends him and tries to protect him from the abuses of his wife, Pip's bad tempered and difficult sister.
Joe sticks by Pip with kindness and understanding even when Pip is ashamed of him and doesn't to want to be seen with him. Joe's steady goodhearted generosity contrasts sharply with Pip's pretensions and social climbing. Through creating a character as compassionate, grounded and good as Joe, Dickens' critiques the snobbery of the more flawed and human Pip, who wishes to climb to a higher social status in a way Joe never does and never could, because Joe is content in his own skin.
Joe confounds Jagger by valuing people more than money, another sign of Joe's compassion. Joe is satisfied to remain a blacksmith and willing to love Pip whether or not he has money or status. He loves Pip for being Pip, and it never crosses his mind to use him. He provides a contrast to unhappy characters, such as Miss Havisham, who want to make Pip suffer.
Even after Pip has disrespected and neglected him, Joe remains faithful and loving, stating the following: "dear old Pip, old chap," said Joe, "you and me was ever friends."