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Pip and Joe in “Great Expectations” by Dickens Essay


Pip is a short name for Phillip. The name stuck to him after he was unable to pronounce his name properly. He could say Pip only. He was an orphan brought up by his sister and her husband. Joe, on the other hand, was a blacksmith who married Pip’s sister. He is good looking and mature. “He was an easy going, foolish, sweet tempered, mild, good natured dear fellow…” (Dickens 7), Pip thought. Pip and Joe were similar in characters yet have different personalities. Charles Dickens uses Pip’s and Joe’s differences in character to communicate his message to the reader through their experiences and virtues.

Joe enjoyed great freedom and inner self-worth that Pip had never experienced up to the closing stages of the novel. For instance, when Joe paid a visit to Pip in London, Pip set up a dismal situation. Joe declared with dignity, “Pip, dear chap, life entails so many things combined which calls for people’s attention in an appropriate manner.” Joe was not similar to Pip since he lacked false constraints of social barriers.

Pip ‘s character is significant in the novel; he also plays a leading role and his actions craft the plot of the novel. His thoughts and attitudes shape the mind of the reader. Developing and understanding Pip’s character was the most profound step in Great expectation. Joe was honest and simple blacksmith who lived in the marshes.

Pip’s principal traits of character were a result if his undeveloped, romantic idealism and his intrinsically first-class scruples. Pip’s focus was to perk up and realize any encroachment in ethics, education, and social matters. Joe was a blacksmith; and they thus differed in thinking which made Pip leave for London to become a gentleman.

Joe was always kind and trusted person. Pip admired Joe’s character as a boy. They stayed apart for a long time before seeing each other. This may be associated with their differences in characters. When Pip fell ill, Joe nursed him and covered all his debts. While, on the other hand, Pip left Joe in the rear in quest for Estella, totally ignoring the last.

Joe was concerned and caring. When Joe saw that Pip was not participating in their normal competition, he got worried and exclaimed loudly. Joe told Pip to hide behind the door when he realized that Mrs. Joe was coming to punish him. Pip went out to the churchyard making his sister worried about him. She then went out to look for her with a cane, Tickle. He also passes Pip to the chimney in an attempt to cover him with his leg so he would not receive more beatings from Mrs. Joe. Most times when there was gravy, Joe would add some pints to Pip’s plate.

They began to see each other as equals due to the sufferings they experienced together as cited from the book, where it is said “Joe and I being fellow sufferers and having confidences as such, Joe imparted a confidence to me…” (Dickens 9). Mrs. Joe gave them similar shares of loaves showing that she took them as equals. Later, they competed biting for their slices (Dickens 9). Pip “always treated Joe as a huge species of child and no more than my equal” (Dickens 8). He also referred to Mr. Pumblechook, Joe’s uncle, as his own uncle. This shows how people in similar circumstances may end up uniting despite their differences in characters.

Pip was reserved. He feared the old convict. He got threatened that if he did not take food, his heart and liver would be eaten. He ate his loaf and stole more food and kept it to give it to the old man. He got uneasy after stealing foodstuffs from the sister’s house (Dickens 13). He thought everyone knew about his theft. He even said to an ox, “I could not help it, sir! It was not for myself I took it!” (Dickens 12). Joe, on the other hand, was the husband to Mrs. Joe, yet he received her intimidation. Joe was not able to hide his fears; he even asked if he could take Pip with him as they accompanied the soldiers in pursuit of the convicts.

Pip and Joe shared a deep friendship and helped each other where they could. However, their friendship could be one of the outcomes of their differences. Pip felt guilty that he stole Joe’s food from the house. However, he was afraid to tell the truth since he feared losing Joe as his friend and companion. He admitted that he had acted as a coward for not doing the right thing (Dickens 32). Despite getting tired, Joe carried Pip on his back most the time when they were pursuing the convict. Pip was also willing to help Joe in his own way to improve his reading after he had realized that Joe’s reading was at the infant stage (Dickens 35). These show their special bond and comfort they felt while being around each other.

Joe and Pip had different experiences in life. Joe had parents who were constantly arguing during his childhood. He missed school due to these problems, started blacksmith work and married Mrs. Joe, who attacked and treated him harshly. Pip, on the other hand, was an orphan who stayed in his sister’s house, received good opportunities for education but failed in wooing Estella. When he repented and decided to marry Biddy, he found her already married to Joe.

Joe was faithful to Pip while Pip stole from him and neglected him as he strived to win Estella’s love. Joe, on the other hand, covered Pip’s debts although he left for London to be a gentleman forsaking him. He went to London to nurse Pip who was ill and eventually forgave him. This shows his good nature and true friendship towards Pip.

Their views and reasoning are different from each other. Joe shared with Pip the reasons why he had not acquired education when he had been young. He told him how his dad got drunk and then caused their mother’s fight. Their mother escaped with them to another place and worked hard to take them to school. Their dad followed them and caused a scandal in public. That made the owners of the place where they were living in give them up to their father. (Dickens 36) This disrupted Joe’s learning process. When Joe thought that his father had done such things out of love for them, Pip differed in opinion. He did not express his opposite opinion to Joe.

Pip was drowning in debt despite having much money from Abel Magwitch. Joe had been more rational in managing his finances despite being a simple blacksmith. He even acquired enough money to offset Pip’s huge debts.

Pip was able to travel widely and experience a more liberal lifestyle in an attempt to meet all his ambitions while Joe did not. Joe was comfortable with his life and settled as a blacksmith. Pip was also quick tempered. He knocked the wall in anger after he was unable to reveal his anger. He preferred to keep them to himself and only hit the wall. In contrast to Joe, he was calm, collected and indifferent towards his problems. He accepted them without questioning or seeking redress.

Dickens used Pip and Joe in his novel as a way to relay messages to the readers of the novel. He hoped that, from the virtues of Joe and Pip, readers would understand his intended message.

Being good to all people is a virtue that should be valued. Pip helped the old convict and felt apologetic that he got arrested again. He took him food without knowing him as they were total strangers and had never met before. The old man later named him as a benefactor to a large sum of his money. Pip got rewarded for his selfless action of agreeing to take some food to the old man. Joe was a faithful friend to Pip. Even after being abandoned by Pip, he nursed him and paid his debts off. He displayed a notion that one should be with his/her friends through thick and thin. Pip did not shy away from apologizing to Joe and even set to Egypt to work hard and pay for Joe.

Joe was married to a wife who ruled over him and looked down upon him. However, he was good, patient and always obliged to her instructions without dispute. It was unfortunate that Mrs. Joe was attacked when Joe and Pip were away and far from the house. Joe was eventually able to remarry again and settle down.

Optimism is a virtue. Joe thought his dad cared for them. He thought so because his dad always tracked them down and made a row demanding them to return to him even though he was a drunkard. Optimism helped him to accept his illiteracy without blaming either of his parents. Optimism helps one see the bright side of everything and be at peace with each oneself and the others.

Too much ambition can mislead an individual. Pip was overcome by ambition. He had celebrated expectations. This made him forget his faithful friends in pursuit of his own interests when attracted by Estella. He also began overspending since he did not accept his social class. This eventually accrued to an immense debt. This shows that one should live within one’s means.

Joe and Pip were friends, companions and business partners when Pip worked for Joe as an apprentice. They were from different backgrounds, with different physical characteristics and behavior. They lived through many events, good and bad as described in the novel. These differences made them part for a long time as Pip moved to London while Joe was left in the marshes. They were eventually able to show that helping others, working hard, being ready to apologize and correcting one’s mistakes are real virtues.

Works Cited

Dickens, Charles. Great expectations. London, England: Penguin, 1996. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2020, November 27). Pip and Joe in “Great Expectations” by Dickens. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/pip-and-joe-in-great-expectations-by-dickens/

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"Pip and Joe in “Great Expectations” by Dickens." IvyPanda, 27 Nov. 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/pip-and-joe-in-great-expectations-by-dickens/.

1. IvyPanda. "Pip and Joe in “Great Expectations” by Dickens." November 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pip-and-joe-in-great-expectations-by-dickens/.


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IvyPanda. "Pip and Joe in “Great Expectations” by Dickens." November 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pip-and-joe-in-great-expectations-by-dickens/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Pip and Joe in “Great Expectations” by Dickens." November 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/pip-and-joe-in-great-expectations-by-dickens/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Pip and Joe in “Great Expectations” by Dickens'. 27 November.

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