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Certainly the most genuine of characters in Great Expectations, Joe Gargery is a simple man, but one with a loving, kind heart. When he tells Pip of his courtship of Pip's sister, Joe explains to Pip that he told her,
"And bring the poor little child. God bless the poor little child...there's room for him at the forge!"
Before Pip goes to play at the mysterious house of Miss Havisham, Joe extends good wishes to Pip, saying, "God bless you, Pip, old chap!"
Then, when Mr. Jaggers appears at the forge to announce Pip's "Great Expectations," he tells Joe that Pip will have to go to London in order to learn to become a gentleman. He says to Joe,
"It were understood that you wanted nothing for yourself, remember?"
"I were understood," said Joe.
But, Mr. Jaggers asks Joe if he desires any compensation. Joe asks what he means. Mr. Jaggers explains that he means the loss of Pip's services on the forge. But, unselfishly, Joe replies,
Pip is that hearty welcome...to go free with his services, to hanor and fortun', as no words can tell him. but if you think as money can make compensation to me for the loss of the little child--what come to the forge--and ever the best of friends!--"
Clearly, Joe loves Pip unselfishly. In the Second Stage when Joe visits Pip after he is living in London, Pip is embarrassed to have the rustic Joe at his apartment when he pretentiously has a servant and acts the gentleman. And, after the awkward Joe embarrasses Pip, Joe prepares to depart less Pip be further ashamed. He frankly apologizes to Pip for the awkwardness that he has displayed before Herbert,
Diwisions among such must come, and must be met as they come.....You and me is not two figures to be together in London; nor yet anywheres else but what is private, and beknown, and understood among friends....I'm awful dull.... And so GOD bless you, dear old Pip, old chap, GOD bless you!”
In later chapters when Pip becomes very ill after spending hours tending the dying Magwitch, Pip regains consciousness, it is Joe who comforts him; when Pip awakens from his delirium and sees Joe with his head on Pip's pillow, he recognizes Joe and recriminates himself for his having neglected to visit Joe at the forge,
"Oh, Joe, you break my heart! Look angry at me, Joe....Tell me of my ingratitude. Don't be so good to me!"
But, Joe replies, "...you and me was ever friends." After Pip recovers more, Joe quietly departs leaving Pip a short letter,
Not wishful to intrude I have departed fur you are well again dear Pip and will do better without Jo.
P.S. Ever the best of friends.
Finally, when the prodigal Pip returns home, Joe quickly forgives him again,
"Oh, dear old Pip, old chap...God knows as I forgive you, if I have anythink to forgive!"
"Dear Joe" is almost the father Pip has searched for, but he is not strong enough; however, he is clearly a lovable and honest character. For, he is constant in his devotion to Pip, coming to London to visit the young gentleman and when Pip in his illness has need of him, and still forgiving him in his snobbiness acquired after living in London, and when he returns home as the prodigal son.
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