How do the minor characters, Miss Skiffins, Arthur and Matthew Pocket, contribute to the development of the plot and themes in Great Expectations?
The characters Miss Skiffins, Arthur Havisham, and Matthew Pocket of Great Expectations contribute to the development of major characters. Further, they contribute to the theme of Dreams and Plans as well as to the motif of the Collapse of Rigid Categories in Great Expectations. Miss Skiffins and Mr. Pocket also contribute to the comic relief in the novel.
- Miss Skiffins
Miss Skiffins is a very proper young woman who always wears gloves. Furthermore, she unwinds John Wemmick's arm if he puts it around her as they are seated. After their marriage and the achievement of their dreams and plans, Miss Skiffins does allow her husband to put his arm around her, demonstrating the collapsing of rigid categories. Her contribution to the plot is her ability to make Wemmick a more sentimental character as he parts from his business-like manner with her. Further demonstration of this collapse comes in Chapter LI (51) when Wemmick admits to his warmer side at the office. This shocks Mr. Jaggers:
“What's all this?” said Mr. Jaggers. “You with an old father, and you with pleasant and playful ways?”
“Well!” returned Wemmick. “If I don't bring 'em here, what does it matter?”
- Arthur Havisham
- Matthew Pocket
Furthermore, Mr. Pocket sets a rather unorthodox example as a gentleman and a tutor as he pulls at his hair when he is unable to control the rambunctious children. Another pointed collapse of rigid categories occurs within the dynamics of the household. Pip observes that is is really the servants who keep the baby safe and control the other children:
Both Mr. and Mrs. Pocket had such a noticeable air of being in somebody else's hands, that I wondered who really was in possession of the house and let them live there, until I found this unknown power to be the servants.When frustrated, Mr. Pocket appears to try to lift himself by his own hair. Still Pip respects him and asks Miss Havisham to leave him some money in her will. All these actions contribute to the comic relief of the seriousness in the narrative.