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In Chapter IX of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Pip steals into the forge where Joe is working after he has fabricated a fantastic tale of velvet couches and games of flags and dogs fighting for veal-cutlets during his visit to the house of the wealthy Miss Havisham. Twisting Joe's sleeve, Pip confesses that he has lied:
"It's terrible Joe, ain't it?...It's lies...I don't know what possessed me Joe, but I wish you hadn't taught me to call knaves at cards jacks, and I wish my boots weren't so thick nor my hands so coarse."
Hanging his head, Pip tells Joe that he feels very miserable; he has learned from a "proud young lady" that he is "common," of lower class. For the first time in his life, Pip has been made aware of social status, and he has been made to feel inferior. Of course, the irony of this situation is what the reader learns later on about this "proud young lady."
In addition, this scene from Dickens' novel introduces the theme of Appearance vs. Reality as Pip assumes that the young lady is superior to him simply because she lives at Satis House and because she maintains a haughty attitude toward him.
When Pip returns from Miss Havisham's house, and after having been ridiculed by Estella for his "coarse hands" and "thick boots," Pip expresses his sudden displeasure with his own recently-discovered commonness:
I told Joe...that there had been a beautiful young lady at Miss Havisham's who was dreadfully proud, and that she said I was common, and that I knew I was common, and that I wished I was not common, and that the lies had come out of it somehow, though I didn't know how.
In response, Joe tells Pip that while he might fit Estella's definition of "common," Pip is "oncommon" in other ways, and Joe reminds Pip that he knows how to read.
Despite Joe's attempts to cheer Pip up, Pip thinks, sadly, "how common Estella would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith," and notes that this one visit to Miss Havisham's completely changes the course of Pip's life.
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