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Charles Dickens’ novel Great Expectations is full of memorable passages, including the following four, which are memorable for some of the reasons explained below:
"Joe, how are you, Joe?"
"Pip, how AIR you, Pip?"
With his good honest face all glowing and shining, and his hat put down on the floor between us, he caught both my hands and worked them straight up and down, as if I had been the last-patented Pump.
This passage, from Chapter 27, describes the grown-up Pip’s encounter with Joe, a true friend from his youth. The passage is memorable for a number of reasons, including these: (1) it shows Dickens’ skill in recreating dialect (“how AIR you”); (2) it implies the distinctions in class (a major theme of the novel) that now exist between Pip and Joe; (3) it reminds us that Joe is the moral touchstone of the novel – a truly good man who, without intending to do so, sets an ethical standard by which other characters, including Pip, can be judged; (4) it uses subtle symbolism to imply Joe’s moral character and vitality (“glowing and shining”); and (5) it exemplifies Dickens’ use of humor (as in the reference to the pump handle).
Betimes in the morning I was up and out. It was too early yet to go to Miss Havisham's, so I loitered into the country on Miss Havisham's side of town,—which was not Joe's side; I could go there to-morrow,—thinking about my patroness, and painting brilliant pictures of her plans for me.
In this passage, from the very beginning of Chapter 29, Pip mentions one of the major characters of the book (Miss Havisham) and implies the difference in social class between her and Joe. Joe and Miss Havisham are also distinct morally, and it is a sign of Pip’s waywardness that he is attracted to Miss Havisham. The theme of ambition is also implied here – a major theme of the book.
In her furred travelling-dress, Estella seemed more delicately beautiful than she had ever seemed yet, even in my eyes. Her manner was more winning than she had cared to let it be to me before, and I thought I saw Miss Havisham's influence in the change.
This passage focuses on Estella, another major character in the novel. It emphasizes her physical beauty, which Pip finds attractive, and it also emphasizes the influence of Miss Havisham on Estella – another major theme. Estella’s wealth (a major theme) is implied by the way she dresses. Pips’ growing attraction to her (a major theme) is implied by his reaction here.
Herbert and I went on from bad to worse, in the way of increasing our debts, looking into our affairs, leaving Margins, and the like exemplary transactions; and Time went on, whether or no, as he has a way of doing; and I came of age,—in fulfilment of Herbert's prediction, that I should do so before I knew where I was.
This passage, from the very beginning of Chapter 36, mentions another major character (Pip's friend Herbert), alludes to one of Pip's major problems in London (debts), and alludes to a major theme of the book: the passage of time. Pip's coming "of age" is also a major motif of the novel.
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