In Great Expectations, what symbolic significance is intended by the design of Wemmick's house?And Pip's visit to the house? 

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ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Wemmick completely separates work from home life. His house is designed exemplify the dichotomy between his two worlds. One enters Wemmick's home by crossing over a bridge, which symbolizes crossing over between two worlds. Wemmick is very proud of his "castle", a symbol of fairy tales and dreams where people live 'happily ever after." This is in stark contrast to working for Mr. Jaggers, where many of the clients face execution or imprisonment. The castle is brightly decorated in contrast to the dark colors of Jagger's office. When Pip visits, he meets Wemmick's father, Aged Parent, a man who is apparently kind and well cared for, but is almost completely deaf. In order to please Aged Parent, Wemmick sets off a cannon he calls "the stinger" at 9 p.m. It is apparently one of the few things his father can still hear. Such lighthearted fun is in total contrast to the business like, stolid atmosphere of Jagger's office. In fact, Wemmick reveals that Jaggers knows nothing about his clerk's private life.He says, . . .the office is one thing, and private life is another. When I go into the office, I leave the castle behind me, and when I come into the castle, I leave the office behind me.”

lit24 | Student

One of the important themes in "Great Expectations" is education. In Ch20 Pip arrives in London to become 'educated' as a gentleman, and one of the means employed by Dickens to educate Pip is to make him visit the homes of his friends and associates in London. This is because in Ch14 Pip has confessed, "it is a most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home." These visits prove beneficial in getting rid of his false pride and vanity and snobbery and in Ch58 he is no longer ashamed of his home:"now let me go up and look at my old little room and rest there a few minutes by myself."

His visit to Wemmick's house in Ch25 teaches him the following lessons:

1. Pride in manual labour: In Ch 14 Pip is afraid that Estella will ridicule him because of his hands which have been blackened by working at the forge. Wemmick proudly announces to Pip that he built and developed his house with his own hands:"My own doing."

2. Pride of home:Wemmick's house is small "the smallest house I ever saw," and strangely constructed like a gothic castle, but Wemmick unlike Pip is proud of his house.

3. Love and respect for the elderly: Wemmick is not embarrassed or ashamed of his 'Aged Parent' unlike Pip who is always ashamed of Joe.

4. Frugality: Hardwork and thrift have made Wemmick the proud owner of a house. Pip on the contrary is extravagant and is arrested for debt.

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Great Expectations

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