Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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Why does Miss Havisham meet with Joe and Pip, and what does Pip's attitude towards her offer reveal about his changing sense of value?

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Miss Havisham commands Pip and Joe to meet with her in order to sign over Pip as an apprentice to Joe.

From the time Pip is young, Miss Havisham invites him to her house to watch him play with Estella.  His sister allows it because she hopes that being connected with the Havisham’s will elevate Pip in some way.  What she is really doing is using him.  He is a poor blacksmith’s nephew and she is an heiress.  He makes regular trips to her house throughout his childhood until the day she asks to see his uncle Joe, the blacksmith.

The plan had always been for Pip to be apprenticed to Joe when he was old enough.  Miss Havisham knew this, of course.  However, when he began to make the regular trips to the Havisham house his family began to assume she had higher expectations for him.

At first, Pip was happy with the idea of being a blacksmith.  However, he began to feel inferior.  He thought of himself as coarse and common.  He wanted more from life.  His association with Miss Havisham and Estella had caused him to internalize her values.  He no longer was satisfied with the simple life, and pleased with being a blacksmith.  This is evident in his reaction to Joe’s visit to Satis House.

 “You had better be apprenticed at once. Would Gargery come here with you, and bring your indentures, do you think?”

I signified that I had no doubt he would take it as an honour to be asked.

“Then let him come.” (Ch. 12)

Pip assumes that Joe is going to Satis House because Miss Havisham is going to reveal her plans for him.  He has no idea he is about to be indentured to go as a blacksmith.  Miss Havisham is actually doing him and Joe a great favor, paying for Pip to be indentured to Joe.  She is helping Pip to fulfil his destiny.  But it is no longer a destiny he is happy with.

When Joe arrives, Pip is embarrassed by his appearance and his manners.  This again reveals how he has changed, accepted Miss Havisham’s values over his own.  His sense of pride has moved beyond the simple, and beyond his home.  He is horrified to learn that Miss Havisham is signing him over to Joe.

Finally, I remember that when I got into my little bedroom, I was truly wretched, and had a strong conviction on me that I should never like Joe's trade. I had liked it once, but once was not now. (Ch. 13)

Pip expected more.  He had gotten used to the idea that he was going to become a gentleman, or become worthy of Estella.  He thought he was becoming groomed for that world.  Of course, when Jaggers arrives to tell him of his great expectations he can only assume that is the case.  From this point on, he will never be satisfied with being a blacksmith.  He is destined for greater.

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