Looking for a quote on how Mrs. Joe made Pip more sensitive. There is a quote that says something about how instead of hardening Pip and making him stronger/more resistant to insult and injury,...

Looking for a quote on how Mrs. Joe made Pip more sensitive.

There is a quote that says something about how instead of hardening Pip and making him stronger/more resistant to insult and injury, Mrs. Joe's bullying actually made him weaker.

Could you help me find the quote?

Asked on by faithlct

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billdelaney's profile pic

William Delaney | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

The quote to which you are referring seems to be a paragraph in Chapter 8 of the novel. The following is the entire paragraph. Pip refers to his hypersensitivity at the very end of the paragraph.

My sister's bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand, gave her no right to bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally timid and very sensitive.

Pip displays his sensitivity and timidity with many of the characters he meets. One of these characters, of course, is Estella. She doesn't have much respect for Pip because girls sometimes don't like boys who are timid and sensitive. These are rather stereotypically girlish qualities. However, he impresses her favorably when he beats Herbert in their fistfight. This is when she allows him to kiss her. But Pip is afraid he has done something very bad in fighting with Herbert, and especially in beating him, and he expects that there will be repercussions. Being morally timid, Pip is always blaming himself for doing things, or not doing things, which other men his age would not be much concerned about. Pip is always judging himself, and he almost always judges himself unfavorably. He knows he has been at fault for the ungrateful way in which he has treated Joe, yet he goes ahead and does it just the same. His narration of the various incidents that occur throughout his life usually include some unfavorable description of his own character. A good example is his behavior with Abel Magwitch in Chapter 39 and afterward. Magwitch horrifies him with his bad manners, and yet Pip realizes he is indebted to this same man for providing the money to make him the kind of gentleman who would be revolted by those manners. Pip rarely has anything good to say about himself and often makes derogatory comments about things he has done or should have done. A very good example is the way he describes how he was humiliated by Trabb's boy in Chapter 30.

...suddenly the knees of Trabb's boy smote together, his hair uprose, his cap fell off, he trembled violently in every limb, staggered out into the road and crying to the populace, “Hold me! I'm so frightened!” feigned to be in a paroxysm of terror and contrition, occasioned by the dignity of my appearance. 

Pip would like to kill Trabb's boy for mocking him so outrageously and relentlessly in public, but at the same time he obviously feels he deserves the treatment because of the way he is masquerading as a gentleman in the town where everybody knew him to be an orphan and a blacksmith's apprentice. Pip has a poor opinion of himself. He is in an awkward position. He has suddenly been turned into a gentleman but doesn't feel like a gentleman. It isn't something that can be accomplished overnight. His sister has made him a scapegoat to bear the punishment for all her discontentment with her life. Inevitably this has given him what in our day is called an inferiority complex.

Sources:
litteacher8's profile pic

litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

One quote that might work is this one, when Pip discusses how he felt when he was young.

Since that time, which is far enough away now, I have often thought that few people know what secrecy there is in the young, under terror. (enotes etext p. 12)

This quote demonstrates how Pip grew up in terror of his sister throughout his childhood.  She was abusive, and he was a timid kid as a result.

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