How does Dickens use satire to poke fun at the funeral in Great Expectations?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The answer to this question can be found in Chapter 35 of this great novel, which contains a narrative account of Mrs. Joe's funeral, Pip's sister, and the arrangements that accompany it. The first and principal way in which the funeral arrangements are satirised is through the sight that greets Pip when he first returns to his old home. Note the humorous way in which he presents the two representatives of Trabb and Co.:

At last I came within sight of the house, and saw that Trabb and Co. had put in a funereal execution and taken possession. Two dismally absurd persons, each ostentatiously exhibiting a crutch done up in a black bandage--as if that instrument could possibly communicate any comfort to anybody--were posted at the front door...

These two persons Pip recognises are two members of the village who are famed for their absurd acts, one of them for eating two geese and the other for "turning a young couple into a sawpit on their bridal morning." The way in which two such ridiculous figures try to impress others in such a serious role is ludicrous, as is their descrption of having a "crutch." Let us not also forget the way in which Trabb and Co. are said to have "taken possession" of the house, clearly showing their self-importance and their tendency to dominate. This is of course but one example of how the funeral arrangements are satirised in this chapter.

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