What is the atmosphere of the Pocket household?

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janetlong eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Pocket household is described in volume II, chapter 3 of Great Expectations. Dickens frequently used comic set pieces to describe otherwise dismal or distressing situations. The "tumbling up" of Herbert's younger siblings is intended both as comic relief and as a contrast to the macabre atmosphere of Satis House. Chaos and resignation reign in both places, though one is sunny and beneficent though noisy and the other is lightless and malignant. Herbert is the product of one house; Estella is the product of the other.

An earlier version of the brainless, spoiled Mrs. Pocket is Dora in David Copperfield, whom Dickens kills off as a mercy to his protagonist. Dickens uses Mrs. Pocket to more fully explore the consequences of rearing a female to be ornamental to the point of idiocy, the results of which are neglect and constant danger to her children (as in baby's nutcracker) and predations on the household resources by the servants. Dickens keeps the tone humorous and over the top, but hints about Herbert's character and future are found in the attempts of little Jane to impose some measure of security for the baby Pocket and Mr. Pocket's hapless determination to provide for his family.

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Great Expectations

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