Great Expectations – Chapter 13 Essay Sample

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In the first scene of chapter 13, Pip criticises Joe in his appearance in his Sunday clothes, this occurs in the first paragraph. The first line of the chapter is; “it was a trial to my feelings”, referring to Joes clothing, this portrays Pips feelings towards Joes appearance, that he is embarrassed of Joe. In this, Dickens is saying that Joe cannot be higher by putting on a different set of clothes. The clothes he is most comfortable in, are his working clothes, because that is what he is, a respectable worker. Joe is not an upper class man, that dresses smartly and sharply for any occasion, he is a smart, yet simple man. Dickens is saying that clothes do not make the person, which is unlike to what people think in this novel.

Pip goes on to describing Joe in such a way that he sounds like a bird, “made the hair on his crown stand up like a tuft of feathers.” This adds to Pips embarrassment, but he cannot say anything as Joe is doing this to please Pip, Joe’s trying to make himself look better, more “classy”, when in fact he is making himself look worse, and more out of place.

After Joe and Pip have been let into the house, Joe proceeds to climb the steps in a very awkward manner, this is due to him trying to be gentlemanly, and polite, but results in him looking very foolish and pathetic, and looking like he is performing antics of some sort. The description used, is in itself very humorous, this is on page 100.

Joe is so confused and nervous during the visit that Pip needs to lead Joe into Miss Havisham’s room by crabbing his cuff. This is funny as Pip is much younger, and less experienced in life than Joe, but still needs to treat Joe like a baby, by holding his hand.

The most amusing part of the first scene in chapter 13 is when Miss Havisham is talking to Joe, and asking him questions. Joe treats all of Miss Havishams questions as if Pip was asking them, so all his answers were directed at Pip. This means that Joe is ignoring Miss Havisham, because of his idiocy and nervousness. The fact that Joe has been invited to this ladies house, who is regarded as upper class, is treating her as if she was a voice coming from Pips mouth is very amusing, but makes the reader feel sorry for Joe at the same time, as he is so helpless and oblivious to his mistakes. Joe makes the situation worse for himself, as he goes on to answering Miss Havishams questions to Pip, with a tone of bewilderment in his voice, saying things like, “you yourself see me put ’em into my ‘at” furthering the idea of treating Havishams questions like Pips. The worst part of Joes miscommunication, is when he thanks Pip for the money, which Miss Havisham gives to him.

Joe’s stupidity is underlined, and made more comical by Pip describing the scene, “the more I made faces and gestures to him to do it, the more confidential, argumentative, and polite he persisted in being to Me”. This makes a contrast of Pips struggles to make Joe act properly, to Joe’s misinterpretation and stupidity, Joes behaviour in this scene is absurd and therefore hilarious.

The purpose of the visit to Miss Havishams house was to help with Pips apprenticeship to Joe and the indentures. The indentures were the forms which were needed in order for Pip to become an apprentice. Miss Havisham also wanted to thank Pip for coming and to give him some money for his visits to her.

At the end of the visit, Joe was still very confused and distracted, on exiting Miss Havisham’s room; he proceeded up the stairs instead of down. He was deaf to the calls of Pip, and only realised what he was doing when Pip ran up to him, and grabbed him. Joe’s behaviour was shocked, dumbfounded and confused. It also took him a while to recover from this state; it was as if Miss Havisham had drugged him. The fact that Joe had just been in such “distinguished” company, and had just received a large amount of money, had put him into a state of shock.

In the first scene, although money was one of the reasons that Miss Havisham invited Pip and Joe to her gothic mansion house, money does not play a very important part in it. Pip’s and Joe’s attitude towards the money was thankful, but not greedy and obsessive, their moods were not changed on account of the money. This is the opposite of Mrs.Joe’s reaction to the money.

At the beginning of the second scene, Mrs.Joe is being very sarcastic towards Joe, and she shows her jealousy and anger of not being invited to “high” company along with them. She makes remarks such as, “I wonder you condescend to come back to such poor society as this, I am sure I do!” Mrs.Joe is known as a very negative, pushy character throughout the book, which never smiles. At the mention of money been given to Joe though, her whole attitude changes, and her mood swings from grumpy, to delightful. During this transformation due to money, she starts laughing with happiness, because of the money. At this point, Pip says (in narrative), “”and how much have you got?” asked my sister, laughing. Positively, laughing!” in this quote, Pip repeats himself, as he is astounded at Mrs.Joe laughing, as this is something he has never witnessed, and thought she was not capable of.

In the first scene Joe is out of control, he plays a passive role, whereas, in the second scene, Joe plays an active role. This is a big contrast, and adds to the humour and irony of this chapter. The active role that Joe is playing is one in the form of directing a guessing game. He is making Mrs.Joe guess how much money he has received from Miss Havisham, this gets her very excited and happy, and makes her laugh with delight.

During the guessing game, Pumblechook is a seated onlooker, looking down on Joe. He repeats everything that Joe says, as if he had gotten the information first, for example, after Joe had said to Mrs.Joe that the amount of money he had received was more then she had guessed, Pumblechook followed up with a, “its more than that, Mum.” Pumblechook is trying to steal Joe’s glory, and acting as if he had received the money, or was at least present during the handling of the money. This is ironic humour, its is funny in the sense that you laugh at Pumblechooks character of wanting to be the centre of attention, his hypocrisy, and his snobbishness in trying to make out he is better than Joe, even though he was not present. While the reader is thinking this, Pip confirms it with introducing each of Pumblechooks comments with criticisms such as “That abject hypocrite, Pumblechook, nodded again, and said, with a patronising laugh.” and, “That fearful impostor, Pumblechook.” Pumblechooks eagerness in repeating Joe’s words can be interpreted in different ways; he could be trying to get Mrs.Joe’s attention to try and impress her, or he could be trying to look as involved as Joe for the pure reason of his satisfaction of having something to do with the upper class.

Pumblechook displays his arrogance at other times as well, such as when he says, “this boy must be bound, out of hand. That’s my way.”

When Pip was taken to the Town Hall, the crowd of people present all thought he was a criminal, and were urging the court to punish him. One of the people said, “he’s a young’un, too, but looks bad, don’t he?” this is the stereotypical view of young, poor boys at the time, that they were all petty criminals. People were described as “hanging over the pews, looking on”, being very eager to catch a glimpse of this “thief”. This shows how closed minded and judgemental people were at the time, and how people feast on other people’s unfortune as entertainment.

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