Great Expectations: Joe Gargery Quotes

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

In ''Great Expectations'' by Charles Dickens, Joe Gargery plays a very important role in the main character's life. In this lesson, we will look at a few of Joe's quotes in order to gain a deeper understanding of who he is and why he matters to Pip.

We All Know a Joe

Maybe it's your father or your grandmother, or maybe even a neighbor. Whoever it is, most of us know someone who is kind and hardworking, but not very ''book smart.'' We cherish these people for qualities other than their education. In Great Expectations, Joe Gargery is one of these people. By looking at some of the things Joe says in the book, we can gain an understanding of the type of person he is.

Joe Cares for Pip

One of the first things we learn about Joe is that he truly cares for Pip. The first bit of dialogue we get from Joe is when Pip arrives home late. Joe warns Pip that his sister, Mrs. Joe, is looking for him. He goes further to tell Pip ''and what's worse, she's got Tickler with her.'' Tickler is the name of a stick that Mrs. Joe uses to smack Joe and Pip when she is angry. As readers, we might often assume that parents or parental figures are usually in league with one another. This is not the case for Joe - he's very much on Pip's team. He doesn't want Pip to get hurt, so he warns him about Mrs. Joe and then helps him hide.

Joe Opens Up

Joe is a physically strong character who works as a blacksmith. But even though he sometimes seems like a stereotypical old-fashioned male, he has a sensitive and emotionally open side, too. When Joe tells Pip why he cannot read or write very well, we get another glimpse into who Joe really is. Joe sits with Pip and tells him ''I'll tell you. My father, Pip, he were given to drink, and when he were overtook with drink, he hammered away at my mother, most onmerciful.'' In other words, Joe's father was an alcoholic who used to beat on him and his mother. The word ''onmerciful'' shows Joe's slightly off kilter way of speaking. Another example of Joe's speaking is when he tells Pip that he took care of his father until he had a ''Purple leptic fit.'' He means epileptic fit, but this is good enough for Joe, and Pip understands.

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