How is Joe Gargery in Great Expecations wise?

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It is one of the ironies in Great Expectations that Pip, who has perceived the upperclass as superior, realizes that the most wholesome and honest and loving people in his life have been, with the exception of Herbert Pocket) those of the lower class : Joe Gargery, Biddy, and Magwitch.  For their love for Pip is genuine

Although remaining childlike in his love for Pip, as perhaps a big brother, Joe is wise enough in his defense of Pip against the wrath of Mrs. Joe to realize that the more he intervenes, the worse Mrs. Joe's treatment of Pip is.  So he does not try to save Pip from his sister any more.  In Chapter LVII, Joe explains to the adult Pip,

 ...if I put myself in opposition to her, but that she dropped into you always heavier for it. I noticed that. It ain't a grab at a man's whisker, not yet a shake or two of a man (to which your sister was quite welcome), that 'ud put a man off from getting a little child out of punishment. But when that little child is dropped into, heavier, for that grab of whisker or shaking, then that man naterally up and says to himself, ‘Where is the good as you are a doing?

When Pip confesses to his fabrications about the visit at Miss Havisham's, Joe wisely scolds him for lying, but also encourages the boy,

"Don't you tell me no more of 'em, Pip.  That ain't the way to get out of being common, old chap.  And as to being common, I don't make it out at all clear.  You are uncommon in some things.....Likewise you're an oncommon scholar."

Then, after Mr. Jaggers arrives at the Jolly Bargemen and informs Pip that he has "great expectations," he asks Joe if he would not object to canceling Pip's indentures.  With love, Joe says that he would not stand in Pip's way.  As heartbroken as he is to know that Pip will be taken from him, Joe wisely lets Pip leave and follow his dream of becoming a gentleman.

On the occasion of Joe's visit in London at Pip's lodging, there is much embarrassment by the gentleman Pip at the behavior of the awkward Joe who has dressed in a suit.  After several blunders, Joe, who addresses Pip as "sir" because of the "stupendous power of money" in their society wisely decides to leave.  Before departing, he tells Pip that he belongs on the forge and should not have come to London, hurrying off.  Afterwards, ashamed of his snobbish behavior, Pip tries to call him back cannot find Joe.

While Pip lives in London, althou he takes the stage to the marshes, but often neglects visiting Joe.  Yet, Joe does not chastise him, even welcoming him whenever Pip does come. For instance, at the funeral of Mrs. Joe, there are no recriminations directed at Pip.

Then, when Pip's hands are badly burned after he rescues Miss Havisham from the fire, it is the ever-faithful and fatherly Joe who nurses Pip back to health. But, after noticing that Pip is returning to health, Joe quietly steals away, leaving a letter for Pip.

 Not wishful to intrude I have departured fur you are well again dear Pip and will do better without “Jo.

“P.S. Ever the best of friends.”

Finally, when the prodigal son returns to the forge to beg forgiveness for his selfishness,Pip asks Joe not to tell his and Biddy's son Pip of how ungenerous he has been, Joe replies, "I ain't a-going...God knows as I forgive you, if I have anythink to forgive!"

Like the loving, unselfish couple of O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi," Joe, too, is among the "wisest of them all."


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Great Expectations

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