What is the tone of the last 2 pages in chapter 19 of Great Expectations?

Expert Answers
ajmchugh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chapter 19 marks the end of the first stage of Pip's expectations, and closes as Pip begins his journey to London.  After Pip says goodbye to Biddy, Joe, and Mrs. Joe, his tone becomes reflective, regretful, and apprehensive. 

As Pip first leaves his home to set off for London, he thinks to himself that leaving is easier than he had anticipated it to be.  However, as he observes the peacefulness of the village and remembers his childhood, he begins to cry. 

In the last three paragraphs of the chapter, Pip is reflective and self-aware.  Specifically, he thinks about his relationship with Joe and realizes that he has been ungrateful and that he is sorry for it now.  Pip is so overwhelmed by these thoughts, in fact, that he almost turns around a few time and even imagines that he sees Joe during his travels:

And while I was occupied with those deliberations, I would fancy an exact resemblance to Joe in some man coming along the road towards us, and my heart would beat high.  As if he could possibly be there!

Despite Pip's misgivings and feelings of uncertainty, he ultimately continues on his way to London:

We changed again, and yet again, and it was now too late and too far to go back, and I went on.  And the mists had all solemnly risen now, and the world lay spread before me.

Dickens establishes Pip's inner conflicts very early on in the novel, and readers quickly understand Pip to be an extremely sensitive and pensive character who continually questions his own behavior.  The last few paragraphs in the chapter are consistent with many others in the novel in which Pip is reflective, regretful, and apprehensive.



mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

With Pip as narrator of Great Expectations, there is introspection on the part of Pip, who feels conflicting emotions at the end of Chapter XIX.  Clearly, in the last two paragraphs under question there is a tone of melancholy and guilt.  For, at the end of the First Stage of Dickens's novel, Pip's desire to become a gentleman causes him to assume an air of superiority to Biddy.  When he expresses his wish to improve Joe, Pip refuses to understand Biddy's wisdom in questioning him, and instead accuses her of envy:

You are envious, Biddy, and grudging.  You are dissatisfied on account of my rise in fortune, and you can't help showing it.

At the same time that he feels dissastifaction with his present life on the forge and eagerness to become a gentleman in London, Pip is sadly reluctant to leave what he knows, and he feels guilt for leaving the good Biddy and his friend Joe.  After his departure from Joe at the forge where he would not be embarrassed by the thrown shoes, Pip feels anguish in his heart and cries.  He deliberates whether he should step down off the coach and walk back, but he procrastinates and soon he is too far away.  This procrastination and rationalization of his actions becomes characteristic of Pip in the next stage of the novel.


Read the study guide:
Great Expectations

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question