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Great Expectations > GE, Chapters 01 - 02

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message 1: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Hello Friends,

Here we are at last – starting our read of Great Expectations, one of Dickens’s masterworks. In 2017 I have decided to keep my recaps comparatively short and maybe to think of some leading questions for each week instead. Let’s see if I manage.

In Chapter 1 we are plunged right into the middle of the story, i.e. after a short introduction in which the hero presents himself as Pip, which is short for Philip Pirrip, an orphan who is, as we learn in the second chapter, brought up by his sister. We learn that Pip’s parents and his five brothers are lying on a village churchyard and that the setting is “the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea.” And that Pip’s “first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things” seems to have been awakened one evening – later, we learn it to be Christmas Eve – on the very churchyard where most of his family are resting:

”At such a time I found out for certain that this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dikes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.”


His crying is harshly interrupted by the appearance of an escaped convict, who is rather a sorry sight, shivering from cold and dampness, and being haunted not only by his pursuers but also by hunger. The convict intimidates Pip and threatens to set a young man, his companion, on him and to make him cut out his heart and liver unless he brings him something to eat and a file. Unlike Pip, who is so afraid to promise that he will do as he is bid, the reader notices that this companion does not exist but is just a bogey the convict uses to prevent the boy from betraying him. The chapter ends in the following impressive scene:

”The marshes were just a long black horizontal line then, as I stopped to look after him; and the river was just another horizontal line, not nearly so broad nor yet so black; and the sky was just a row of long angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed. On the edge of the river I could faintly make out the only two black things in all the prospect that seemed to be standing upright; one of these was the beacon by which the sailors steered,—like an unhooped cask upon a pole,—an ugly thing when you were near it; the other, a gibbet, with some chains hanging to it which had once held a pirate. The man was limping on towards this latter, as if he were the pirate come to life, and come down, and going back to hook himself up again. It gave me a terrible turn when I thought so; and as I saw the cattle lifting their heads to gaze after him, I wondered whether they thought so too. I looked all round for the horrible young man, and could see no signs of him. But now I was frightened again, and ran home without stopping.”


In the Second Chapter, we get to know Pip’s family – his bully of a sister, who is twenty years older than he, and her husband Joe Gargery, the village smith, a very good-tempered, slightly naïve man who is clearly under his wife’s thumb. Pip presents his situation at home in a rather humorous light although he lives in awe and fear of his sister:

”My sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, was more than twenty years older than I, and had established a great reputation with herself and the neighbors because she had brought me up “by hand.” Having at that time to find out for myself what the expression meant, and knowing her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of laying it upon her husband as well as upon me, I supposed that Joe Gargery and I were both brought up by hand.

She was not a good-looking woman, my sister; and I had a general impression that she must have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand.”


It is in this chapter that we learn that the story begins on Christmas Eve, which I found quite strange because Christmas Eve is a very special night, and so it is odd for Pip not to have mentioned this circumstance before. Maybe, this tells us that Pip’s fears of his environment, especially of the convict and of his sister Mrs. Joe – what is her first name, by the way? –, are so great that they make him forget everything else. During their meal, Pip stows away his slice of buttered bread for the convict, but he also knows that he will have to rifle the larder later on. In the course of the evening, they hear the sound of canons, and Pip learns that they are shot as a warning to make people aware that yet another convict has escaped from the Hulks that are mooring in the estuary of the river.

Some questions:

Great Expectations is the second Dickens novel written exclusively in the first person point of view, the other being David Copperfield. What can we make of this? We know that David Copperfield is partly autobiographical, sometimes even to the point of Dickens divulging his most traumatic childhood experiences. Does Great Expectations also tell us more about Dickens himself?

How does the first person point of view work in this story? I mean Pip is obviously a small boy who does not know a lot about the world. How does the narrator make us share this naïve point of view, allowing us to partake in Pip’s feelings at the time, and yet convey to us a sense of an older, more mature person telling this story? Just consider the following quotation from the end of Chapter 2:

”Since that time, which is far enough away now, I have often thought that few people know what secrecy there is in the young under terror. No matter how unreasonable the terror, so that it be terror. I was in mortal terror of the young man who wanted my heart and liver; I was in mortal terror of my interlocutor with the iron leg; I was in mortal terror of myself, from whom an awful promise had been extracted; I had no hope of deliverance through my all-powerful sister, who repulsed me at every turn; I am afraid to think of what I might have done on requirement, in the secrecy of my terror.”


I find Mrs. Joe an interesting character: Obviously, she is one of the childhood terrors of Pip, constantly threatening and sometimes even beating him. But is she really such a monster, or can we understand her bitterness, e.g. her reproaches towards her husband of her never being allowed to doff her apron, in a way?

How is the convict presented? Is he only a bully, a child’s bogeyman, or do we get an impression of his sufferings and his fears, too?

As usual, and this goes for all the questions I may come up with, these points are just meant as potential starting-points for discussions, and you are, of course, also welcome to present your own ideas rather than stick to questions.


message 2: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
While waiting for the barmaid to be able to pay me any attention -- Peter was monopolizing her time having her fetching bottles and chatting here up, which I don't blame him, she's a very nice young woman -- I was re-reading some of the early chapters, and thought a bit more about this passage that Tristram included above:

The marshes were just a long black horizontal line then, as I stopped to look after him; and the river was just another horizontal line, not nearly so broad nor yet so black; and the sky was just a row of long angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed. On the edge of the river I could faintly make out the only two black things in all the prospect that seemed to be standing upright; one of these was the beacon by which the sailors steered,—like an unhooped cask upon a pole,—an ugly thing when you were near it; the other, a gibbet, with some chains hanging to it which had once held a pirate.

The image of the flat, flat, flat landscape with just two black things standing up was, as he said, stark, but I realized that the beacon could be taken to represent life -- it served the purpose of a lighthouse, helping sailors find their way at night and keeping them safe -- and the gibbet, of course, representing death.

Life and death, two stark both black poles standing in an otherwise flat, featureless land.


message 3: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
About Pip's sister, who was already called a striking and a prickly woman by Peter and Ami here - qualities that she indubitably possesses: I was actually wondering why Mrs. Joe - it's also quite conspicuous that she does not get any name of her own but is referred to by Pip through her husband's name, although she is not dominated by him but rather the other way round; so that, maybe, the masculine tag is meant to imply that she is not living up to the Victorian standards of humility, tenderness and submission - I was wondering, I say, why Mrs. Joe does not have any children of her own. Is this also a slight hint at what Dickens might have wanted to understand as a lack of female qualities in Mrs. Joe? Be that as it may, I think that this might be a key to her bitterness: Maybe she wants children of her own, and maybe her having to look after Pip makes it impossible for them to have any children of their own, Mr. Gargery's income preventing an enlargement of the family? It is also quite obvious that Mr. Gargery is more like a boy than a man - playing his "who can eat the slice of bread more quickly" game with his nephew, and allying himself with him against his sister. This lack of manliness in Joe might explain why Mrs. Joe feels that she has to run the household and take care of its worldly affairs, and that's why she feels she can never take her apron off.

In many Dickens novels, self-sacrifice is presented as a female virtue, but strangely, Mrs. Joe, who obviously devotes herself to her family (even though she does not show a lot of tenderness) is not given any merit for self-sacrifice. Instead, her efforts are satirized by the narrator, who presents her as an unpleasant and menacing, but also slightly ridiculous - cf. the nutmeg grater - character. She is, in a way, the only real adult in the house - just consider how many time the narrator intimates that he regarded Joe as being in the same position of awe and domination than he was.

The prickly quality of Mrs. Gargery is enhanced when the narrator tells that sometimes some of her pins and needles get into the bread she cuts for Joe and him. So whatever she gives to them, is mixed with little bits of steel, and steel reminds me a bit of Miss Murdstone.

The question remains whether Mrs. Joe will be presented as a caricature all through the novel or whether she will get more depth and dimension.


message 4: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
About Pip's struggle for identity: I was quite impressed with the way the narrator describes the marshy landscape here, and I quoted the ending of Chapter 1, where everything, the marshes, the river and the sky, is described as a pattern of horizontal lines, which is quite an estranging way of describing landscape, or maybe just hints at the general voidness of the landscape of anything that gives distinction and individuality to a place. There are only two exceptions to this rule of horizontal lines, namely the gallows and the beacon. The gallows clearly represent death and maybe also shame (because it is not exactly an honorable death to be hanged), and the fact that the convict makes for the gallows, apparently to string himself back up there, links him with death and shame. The beacon might stand for guidance, hope and salvation - and hope, the title of the novel suggests it, will play at least as large a role as death and shame in the course of events.


message 5: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "I was wondering, I say, why Mrs. Joe does not have any children of her own. "

I also wondered that. She's certainly of the right age; we're told she was 20 years older than Pip (her mother must have started young, but of course lost five children along the way), so must be in her late 20s or early 30s (have we ever decided how old Pip is?).

The lack of her own children could go two ways. One, resentment. Two, a special love for Pip as the only child she would get to raise, somewhat the way some people without children look on their pets as child equivalents.

It's a shame for both of them that she went the first way, but it makes for a better novel.


message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2922 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Tristram wrote: "I was wondering, I say, why Mrs. Joe does not have any children of her own. "

I also wondered that. She's certainly of the right age; we're told she was 20 years older than Pip (h..."


Everyman

I will suggest an age for Pip when the Chapter 12&13 comments open.

I'm just waiting for the "all clear" from Kim/Tristram.


message 7: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I've often thought that the best Dickens novels for a newbie to start with are either David Copperfield or Great Expectations, and only now realised why. It's not the story, so much as the easy charismatic fluency with which they are written. Perhaps also because both are told in the first person, by a young (or youngish) boy. Both have a vague autobiographical element too, which draws you in.

I've been alternately chortling and horrified (and occasionally together!) by these first two chapters already. I'd forgotten about the nutmeg grater, and it stood out to me too, because of its being Clemency's favourite reading material (and ultimately something more significant) in The Battle Of Life, which we've just finished. I wonder why Dickens had such a thing about such an artefact though!

Some phrases are etched on my memory from the last reading -"brought up by hand" being one. I love the way the young Pip finds this a source of consternation - and how we can appreciate the devilish double-entendre. I think Dickens often deliberately included phrases like this to stick in the mind, although it was more important to have a memorable phrase in a monthly publication than a weekly, really.

I also was surprised that this was published in the US first, but it was only by a few days each week after all, so I just assumed the weekly publishing days were slightly different. I doubt very much whether the majority of his readers in the UK gave a thought to what was happening on the other side of the pond.

I hate those marshes myself. One school I worked in owned a barge, which was permanently moored a bit further up the coast in similar terrain. School journeys consisted in going to live for a week on the barge. I loathed it so much that I opted for other school journeys, eg walking around some Surrey countryside and staying in huts. Some love the openness, and the bracing estuary air. To me it's miles of wet marshland and yucky sand. So bleak! But then I'm a forest girl :)


message 8: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I think the distinction between the two aspects of the narrator is very clever, and kind of circumvents whether we have an "unreliable narrator" or not. Is it the young Pip who is speaking, or an older one? And how much older? I'm not sure whether with earlier readings I'd picked up quite so clearly how this is enabling Dickens to use, for instance, the dramatic irony he does so well. That's why I love these discussions so much, because you all help me to focus right in on things :)

I have a love-hate relationship with Pip's older sister. She's so entertaining, but such a harridan. She reminds me of an exaggerated version of all the fearsome elderly (or so it seemed to me) aunts I used to have. My mum was by far the kindest of the sisters.

When I was tiny, there seemed to be an endless supply of these, and I'm sure I remember a couple cutting bread in just this aggressive manner! And my brother used to be sent to the baker's to fetch a loaf of bread ... Mum said years later she always wondered why it was shaped a bit like a dumbbell (he said he used to carry it home under his arm!)

When I was taught to butter bread for church "do's" it was always, you scrape a bit on, and then you scrape it off again :D


message 9: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2922 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "I think the distinction between the two aspects of the narrator is very clever, and kind of circumvents whether we have an "unreliable narrator" or not. Is it the young Pip who is speaking, or an o..."

Like you, I have distinct memories of fearsome aunts. The narrative voices keep me on my toes. And yes, there are bountiful bits of irony which are telling of how the adult Pip measures his early life.

As a tourist, I would like to experience the marshes you tactfully avoided on the school trips. Perhaps my experiences, if done now, would be from the window of a Dickens tour bus. Surely, there must be a company that does Dickens tours.


message 10: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Indeed there must! Dare I look? I can guarantee it would be full of American, Canadian and German tourists. He's underappreciated here :(


message 11: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Peter, I'm looking forward to your giving away Pip's age - and most of all, the hints you derived it from. I'm completely at a loss with regard to his age.


message 12: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) I have been reviewing the earlier chapters and wanted to make a note about the lines:

"To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine - who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle - I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence."

Pip, the adult commentator, suggests that his brothers "gave up trying to get a living". Does he mean that the brothers decided that instant death would be better than to go on the market of getting, spending, and being a human involved with money? They have never taken their hands out of their pockets--so they neither provide nor take money.

Might this suggest his financial anxieties? For a young guy whose been brought up by hand, it might be something on his mind: that he costs money and that his five brothers are out of the financial fray. He does not think of them as Heavenly angels; he does not think of them as a loss; he thinks of them as being out of the "universal struggle".


message 13: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 06, 2017 02:28AM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Great point Natalie!

I also think that this represents Dickens's own feeling, up to a point. He had been concerned with making money all his life - struggling to make his living and even now he was so successful still overly concerned with financial concerns - working himself to death with his readings, public appearances, keeping up both his own family and his wilfully impecunious parents.

Yes, I think "gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle" might reveal a great deal about the author's own state of mind, as well as the adult Pip's.


message 14: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
An interesting observation indeed, Nathalie, and one that is in line with another of Pip's reflective observations made in Chapter 4. Since we have already advanced up to Chapter 10 and since it does not give anything of the plot away, I'll quote it here because it will hopefully not be considered as a spoiler:

"I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and against the dissuading arguments of my best friends. Even when I was taken to have a new suit of clothes, the tailor had orders to make them like a kind of Reformatory, and on no account to let me have the free use of my limbs."


This shows a very sad attitude in a little boy, one for which his sister (and her friends Pumblechook and Wopsle) may be held responsible by constantly giving the little boy the feeling of being nothing more but a nuisance, and by telling him over and over again that he should be grateful for all the sacrifices his sister has made for him. One could think that Pip has come to learn to regard his own existence not as a gift but rather as something he has unlawfully and cunningly appropriated.


message 15: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "Even when I was taken to have a new suit of clothes, the tailor had orders to make them like a kind of Reformatory, and on no account to let me have the free use of my limbs.."

One of those passages that raises, I think, the unreliable narrator question. Do we really believe that the tailor had any such orders?

I'm sure it may have seemed that way to a child. But the adult Pip writing this should know it wasn't true, and to be truthful should have said something like "it seemed to me than that..."


message 16: by Kim (last edited Feb 06, 2017 11:57AM) (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod
Hi guys, here is a commentary on the 40 John McLenan illustrations.

Anyway,

"McLenan's series of forty plates in Harper's Weekly: A Journal of Civilization — volume IV: 740 through volume V: 495 (for 24 November 1860 through 3 August 1861) — was not subsequently reproduced in its entirety in either American or British editions. As Edgar Rosenberg notes in the Norton Critical Edition of the novel (1999), although the first installment, containing Chapters 1 and 2 and the first half of Ch. 3, appeared on Saturday, 24 November 1860, in Harper's Weekly, that same installment did not appear in Dickens's own weekly, All the Year Round, until the following Saturday (1 December 1860). The American periodical remained a week in advance of the British until 26 January 1861, when (owing to the long passage on the trans-Atlantic route, which prevented the publishers from getting the advance proof-sheets to the artist in time for him to execute the necessary illustrations) Harper's decided not to run the tenth installment (Chapters 15 and 16). Until this point, the American version, amply illustrated by American artist John McLenan, was certainly "the first edition" of the novel, although lacking half-a-dozen of the early, small-scale illustrations issued between 24 November 1860 and 16 February 1861. As of 2 February 1860, installments in All the Year Round were slightly ahead of those in the New York periodical.

Despite the [British] copyright laws, which forbade prior publication in foreign countries, the serial began with a week's head start in Harper's Weekly: "Splendidly Illustrated by John McLenan. Printed from the Manuscript and early Proof-Sheets purchased from the Author by the Proprietors of 'Harper's Weekly'." The tight schedule to which Dickens was thus forced to work no doubt accounts for the many textual changes he introduced after sending advance proof to New York. Harper's would no doubt have maintained its timetable and beaten All the Year Round to the finishing line if it hadn't been for the omission of the number for January 26....

Typically, McLenan created two very different types of plates to accompany the new Dickens novel, of which he may well have been among the first readers on the American continent: roughly square designs of approximately 11 cm occupying two columns (often in the bottom right section of a page) and small rectangular designs of approximately 5.5 cm wide (in other words, the width of a single column on the four-column page) by 8.5 cm high, often in the bottom left quadrant. The presence of so many smaller illustrations combined with an absence of any illustration in five installments (the 24th, 25th, 26th, the 32nd, and 34th) undermine the veracity of the statement appearing at the head of each installment: "Splendidly Illustrated by John McLenan".

Edgar Rosenberg's "Launching Great Expectations" in the Norton Critical Edition of Charles Dickens's Great Expectations (1999) is the best source of information about the circumstances surrounding the initial trans-Atlantic publication of the novel in serial form.

McLenan's series of forty plates in Harper's Weekly was not subsequently reproduced in British editions, although there was in fact a proto-paperback issued in 1861 with these rare plates:

. . . two editions published by the reprint house of T. B. Peterson & Brothers, Philadelphia, who had bought the rights from Harper: a one-volume edition based on Harper's Weekly and issued in wrappers, which sold for a staggering twenty-five cents--the first paperback of Great Expectations--and a slightly later hardcover, priced at $1.50, featuring McLenan's illustrations from Harper's. [Rosenberg, 423]

The first American edition in book form was published by T. B. Peterson (Philadelphia, 1861) by agreement with Harper & Bros., New York. The book is unusual in that it gives pseudonym ("Boz"), which Dickens dropped in Britain in the early 1840s, last using it for Martin Chuzzlewit. The book's title page, which mentions "thirty-four illustrations from original designs by John McLenan," indicates that its double-columned text (the format used by All the Year Round in Britain) has been "printed from the manuscript and early proof-sheets purchased from the author, for which Charles Dickens has been paid in cash, the sum of one thousand pounds sterling."



message 17: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod


The Gibbet on the Marshes

Chapter 1

John McLenan

1860

Dickens's Great Expectations,

Harper's Weekly 4 (24 November 1860)

Not reproduced in the T. B. Peterson single-volume edition of 1861


message 18: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod

You young dog!" said the man, licking his lips at me, "What fat cheeks you ha' got!

Chapter 1

John McLenan

1860


message 19: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod


"Pip, old chap! You'll do yourself a mischief. It'll stick somewhere. You can't have chawed it, Pip."

Chapter 2

John McLenan

1860

Text Illustrated:

Joe was evidently made uncomfortable by what he supposed to be my loss of appetite, and took a thoughtful bite out of his slice, which he didn’t seem to enjoy. He turned it about in his mouth much longer than usual, pondering over it a good deal, and after all gulped it down like a pill. He was about to take another bite, and had just got his head on one side for a good purchase on it, when his eye fell on me, and he saw that my bread and butter was gone.

The wonder and consternation with which Joe stopped on the threshold of his bite and stared at me, were too evident to escape my sister’s observation.

“What’s the matter now?” said she, smartly, as she put down her cup.

“I say, you know!” muttered Joe, shaking his head at me in very serious remonstrance. “Pip, old chap! You’ll do yourself a mischief. It’ll stick somewhere. You can’t have chawed it, Pip.”

“What’s the matter now?” repeated my sister, more sharply than before.

“If you can cough any trifle on it up, Pip, I’d recommend you to do it,” said Joe, all aghast. “Manners is manners, but still your elth’s your elth.”

By this time, my sister was quite desperate, so she pounced on Joe, and, taking him by the two whiskers, knocked his head for a little while against the wall behind him, while I sat in the corner, looking guiltily on."



message 20: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod



"And you know what wittles is?"

Chapter 1

F. A. Fraser. c. 1877

An illustration for the Household Edition of Dickens's Great Expectations


message 21: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod


The Terrible Stranger in the Churchyard

F. W. Pailthorpe

c. 1900

Etching

Dickens's Great Expectations, Garnett edition


message 22: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Hey Kim :) :) :)

I love the "spendidly illustrated by John McLenan" bit. Was that a reassurance to his public, so that they didn't complain about it not being Phiz, I wonder?


message 23: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod


Pip and The Convict

Sol Eytinge

First illustration for Dickens's Great Expectations in the single volume A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations in the Ticknor & Fields (Boston, 1867) Diamond Edition.

Commentary:

"In this first full-page dual character study for the second novel in the compact American publication, a bearded Magwitch confronts the small boy sitting on the enormous tombstone in the churchyard, exactly as in the memorable opening chapter of the novel. This somewhat static illustration conveys a good sense of the initiating incident in terms of setting, particularly in terms of the weed-infested graveyard, but not in terms of the terror that the protagonist experienced as Magwitch seemed to rise from the graves at the side of the church porch moments before.

Mesmerized by the ragged felon, the boy sits atop a moldering grave marker, the words "Sacred to the Memory of" barely decipherable. Thus, the precise passage illustrated would seem to be this, even though the convict is not yet eating the boy's heel of bread:

When the church came to itself — for he was so sudden and strong that he made it go head over heels before me, and I saw the steeple under my feet — when the church came to itself, I say, I was seated on a high tombstone, trembling, while he ate the bread ravenously. [[Chapter One, 1 December 1860, All the Year Round]

In "Pip and the Convict," a full-page dual character study in the compact American publication, a bearded Magwitch, faithfully depicted as "A fearful man, all in grey, with a great iron on his leg" and a rag tied about his head in lieu of a hat, and "broken" shoes, confronts a boy in short jacket and trousers. The one illustration to which Eytinge would have access in preparing this composition, John McLenan's "You young dog!" said the man, licking his lips at me, "What fat cheeks you ha' got!" in the 24 November 1860 number of Harper's Weekly, is more vigorous in its sense of the convict and the setting, although McLenan's Pip is rather too big for the "undersized" boy of the text. In McLenan's middle-distance picture, the convict is indeed ragged, torn by weeds, and voracious; in Eytinge's close-up the salient feature is the boy's expression of amazement.



message 24: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod


Joe and Mrs. Joe Gargarey

Sol Eytinge

Second illustration Dickens's Great Expectations in the single volume A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations in the Ticknor & Fields (Boston, 1867) Diamond Edition.

Commentary:

In this second full-page dual character study for the second novel in the compact American publication, the belligerent Mrs. Joe, Pip's surviving sibling, scolds her affable husband in the parlor. Although Harper's illustrator John McLenan provided an ample series of forty plates for Eytinge's study, the 1860-61 magazine serialization offers no precise equivalent for the scene that Eytinge has given us since McLenan does not show the couple together, characteristic as the poses in Eytinge's illustration may be. Much "given to government" (i. e. despotism), Mrs. Joe under Eytinge's hand is an angular, waspish, domineering woman of middle-age (although in the text she is likely in her late twenties only). As in the text, Mrs. Joe is a harridan — "not a good-looking woman" (ch. 2), but as "tall and bony" as Joe is mild and good-natured. Her flaxen-haired husband, the village blacksmith, is a solid, well-built, rotund man — in Eytinge's illustration apparently somewhat younger than his shrewish wife. Seated at the kitchen table, a large mug in his right hand, Joe leans slightly back as his wife in "a coarse apron" upbraids him. Thus, the precise passage illustrated would seem to be this:

By this time, my sister was quite desperate, so she pounced on Joe, and, taking him by the two whiskers, knocked his head for a little while against the wall behind him: while I sat in the corner, looking guiltily on.

'Now, perhaps you'll mention what's the matter,' said my sister, out of breath, 'you staring great stuck pig.'



message 25: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod

Pip's Struggle with the Escaped Convict

Harry Furniss

1910

Dickens's Great Expectations, Vol. 14 of the Charles Dickens Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

"Ha!" he muttered then, considering. "Who d'ye live with, — supposin' you're kindly let to live, which I han't made up my mind about?"

"My sister, sir, — Mrs. Joe Gargery, — wife of Joe Gargery, the blacksmith, sir."

"Blacksmith, eh?" said he. And looked down at his leg.

After darkly looking at his leg and me several times, he came closer to my tombstone, took me by both arms, and tilted me back as far as he could hold me; so that his eyes looked most powerfully down into mine, and mine looked most helplessly up into his.

"Now lookee here," he said, "the question being whether you're to be let to live. You know what a file is?"

"Yes, sir."

"And you know what wittles is?"

"Yes, sir."

After each question he tilted me over a little more, so as to give me a greater sense of helplessness and danger.

"You get me a file." He tilted me again. "And you get me wittles." He tilted me again. "You bring 'em both to me." He tilted me again. "Or I'll have your heart and liver out." He tilted me again.

I was dreadfully frightened, and so giddy that I clung to him with both hands, and said, "If you would kindly please to let me keep upright, sir, perhaps I shouldn't be sick, and perhaps I could attend more."

He gave me a most tremendous dip and roll, so that the church jumped over its own weathercock. Then, he held me by the arms, in an upright position on the top of the stone, and went on in these fearful terms.

— [Chapter One]

Commentary:

"Despite the importance of the opening scene to the novel as a whole, surprisingly not all the illustrators of Great Expectations have attempted it — and none with the intense emotion and energy of Harry Furniss. Although he may not have had access to them, the American illustrations of Pip and the convict in the 1860s by John McLenan in Harper's Weekly and Sol Eytinge, Jr., in the Diamond Edition are useful reference points for Furniss's kinetic description of that fateful meeting on the marshes.

The illustration, occupying a whole page some five pages after the moment occurs in the letterpress, is vignetted rather than framed, its jagged edges complementing the violence of the illustration and the indistinctness of the background, full of menace as objects familiar to Pip in daylight become unrecognizable in the growing darkness. The full-page illustration, conveying Pip's remembered emotion starkly, elaborates upon the visual theme of the man running through the graveyard, a thumbnail vignette in the upper right-hand corner of Characters in the Story on the title-page.

Although the scene is set at dusk in the early winter, the dark background, imitative of the dark plates by Phiz in Bleak House, also reflects the haziness of memory. Seen in the shaded area behind the dynamic figures of Pip on a gravestone and Magwitch, forcing him back, are the static church, its porch, and various gravestones and monuments. The scene is generalized, and does not reflect the particulars of the churchyard at Cooling, Kent, the actual scene that Dickens, then living at nearby Gadshill, Rochester, had in mind. Compared to earlier versions by F. W. Pailthorpe, F. A. Fraser, and Charles Brock, Furniss's interpretation of the dramatic meeting of the blacksmith's boy and the felon in the highly atmospheric setting of the churchyard before sunset is particularly baroque in capturing a precise moment in action, as well as impressionistic in its rendering of the figures, the tangle of weeds in the foreground adding significantly to the mysterious and malevolent atmosphere of the accompanying text. Charles Green in the Gads hill Edition (Chapman and Hall, 1898) does not deal with the churchyard scene, and therefore offered Furniss no precedent, and it is unlikely that Furniss would have been able to study the early American illustrations for the novel by John McLenan and Sol Eytinge, Jr.

Working in the visual tradition of the novel established in 1862 by Marcus Stone, Dickens's chosen artistic partner for the Illustrated Library Edition, Furniss would have had to consult three subsequent British illustrated editions for comparable scenes, namely F. A. Fraser's 1876 Household Edition illustration "And you know what wittles is?", capturing a far less violent moment in Pip's first meeting with escaped convict Abel Magwitch; F. W. Pailthorpe's 1885 illustration from the Robson and Kerslake edition, The Terrible Stranger in the Churchyard, a caricature in the Cruikshank-Phiz tradition rather than an attempt at the new realism, but with some admirably realized background details; and H. M. Brock's 1903 "Imperial Edition" pen-and-ink drawing I made bold to say 'I am glad you enjoy it.'. By the time that the reader encounters the illustration facing page 8 in the first chapter, Pip is still too terrified to eat his slice of bread since he is convinced that he "must have something in reserve for [his] dreadful acquaintance". Thus, Furniss must have felt that only such violence as he has depicted would convince the reader of the boy's continuing to be terrified at the prospect of meeting Magwitch again, "and his ally the still more dreadful young man"



message 26: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod


Mrs. Gargery on the Ram-page

Felix O. C. Darley

c. 1861

Dickens's Great Expectations, Garnett edition


message 27: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Why does almost every illustrator make Joe look like such a dork? A blacksmith has to be a fairly hefty and strongly developed person with at least average or I would think normally above average intelligence to understand all the things he has to understand to be successful; that he's a good one is shown by how quickly he can get his forge up and running and fix the lock on a pair of handcuffs, not I would think a trivial job. But they all make him look demented, vacuous, characterless, basically a blob.

Is there a description of him that I missed that justifies this interpretation of him?


message 28: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Why does almost every illustrator make Joe look like such a dork? A blacksmith has to be a fairly hefty and strongly developed person with at least average or I would think normally above average i..."

As matters stand in Chapters 1 and 2, I would not even have noticed that the illustrations picture Joe as too naive and simple-minded because Pip's narration has its share in presenting him in that light. Nevertheless there will be moments in the story when it becomes clear that Joe has an infinitely finer understanding of things and people in general than Pip has himself and than Pip has credited him with.


message 29: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "

Mrs. Gargery on the Ram-page

Felix O. C. Darley

c. 1861

Dickens's Great Expectations, Garnett edition"


I really like that illustration. Not only does Mrs. Joe look like a full-blooded woman here, one who could really do all those things about the house that were required of her - but the chicken in the front and the stick in her hand also seem to imply that it is none other than she who rules the Gargery roost.


message 30: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "
Pip's Struggle with the Escaped Convict

Harry Furniss

1910

Dickens's Great Expectations, Vol. 14 of the Charles Dickens Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

"Ha!" he muttered then, considering. ..."


I still stick with my observation that if Pip had really been engaged in a fight like the one pictured by Harry Furniss here, the book would never have made it further than Chapter 1 - plus there would be an addition to the five little gravestones mentioned in the exposition ;-)


message 31: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 07, 2017 04:26AM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Tristram wrote: "Mrs. Gargery on the Ram-page"

Felix O. C. Darley

I really like that illustration. Not only does Mrs. Joe look like a full-blo..."


I agree! It's my favourite out of this bunch. Sol Eytinge seem to think the convict is almost sub-human! It takes a rare talent to caricature convincingly.

Thanks for all this work Kim :)


message 32: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2228 comments Everyman wrote: "Tristram wrote: "...on no account to let me have the free use of my limbs.."

One of those passages that raises, I think, the unreliable narrator question. Do we really believe that the tailor had any such orders? ..."


For me this was just hyperbole with the intention of injecting a bit of humor. It never occurred to me that this would have been either Pip's true recollection, or an attempt to hoodwink the reader. Dickens obviously has a strong sense of sarcasm which his characters make good use of. As a sarcastic person who often speaks in hyperbole myself, I recognize it. It came as quite a surprise to me in recent years to realize that there are some who haven't a sarcastic bone in their bodies, don't get it, and certainly don't enjoy it. (I've read enough of your posts over the years, Everyman, to know that you don't fall into that category!) It makes for challenging conversations sometimes, when people take everything I say literally.


message 33: by Mary Lou (last edited Feb 07, 2017 05:28AM) (new)

Mary Lou | 2228 comments In looking at the illustrations, I'm thinking about previous conversations re: Mrs. Joe's hard life. For the most part, I don't buy it. Yes, she had a lot to do around the house, and the life of a housewife in the 19th century certainly wasn't an easy one by modern standards. But for her it was just life, wasn't it? Child mortality and death during childbirth were much more the norm back then, and siblings cared for each other all the time (at least in literature -- look at Charlie in Bleak House). No... she didn't have a washer and, yes, she had to grate her own nutmeg, but this was just par for the course. Joe may not have helped around the house, but he was spending all day in that unbearably hot forge, doing tiring physical labor to provide for the family -- he was hardly a slacker. I've no doubt that there were thousands of other women with the same day-to-day life that Mrs. Joe had, most of whom probably weren't as miserable and mean as she.


message 34: by Xan Shadowflutter (last edited Feb 07, 2017 05:19AM) (new)

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments I agree, Mary Lou. Mrs. Joe may very well hate her situation, but her situation wasn't uncommon, and even if it were that is no excuse for the way she treats Pip. It's not his fault. Pip may be exaggerating his sister's faults based on unreliable childhood memories, but there has to be something there to exaggerate.

Mrs. Gargergy and MumbleChunk (or whatever his name is) are bullies. Anyone have fond memories of bullies? If you do it's probably the day they got theirs. No wonder Pip looks so fondly upon Joe. When surrounded by bullies the one person who says a kind word becomes a life saver.


message 35: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2922 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: "Kim wrote: "

Mrs. Gargery on the Ram-page

Felix O. C. Darley

c. 1861

Dickens's Great Expectations, Garnett edition"

I really like that illustration. Not only does Mrs. Joe look like a full-blo..."


Tristram

I'm reflecting on your comment on the Darley illustration about "who rules the Gargery roost." Great observation and connection.


message 36: by Tristram (last edited Feb 07, 2017 10:21AM) (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Tristram wrote: "Kim wrote: "

Mrs. Gargery on the Ram-page

Felix O. C. Darley

c. 1861

Dickens's Great Expectations, Garnett edition"

I really like that illustration. Not only does Mrs. Joe loo..."


Thanks, Peter! It only occurred to me when I had a fresh look at those wonderful illustrations gathered by our untiring Kim.


message 37: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "I agree, Mary Lou. Mrs. Joe may very well hate her situation, but her situation wasn't uncommon, and even if it were that is no excuse for the way she treats Pip. It's not his fault. Pip may be exa..."

Maybe if I were actually married to Mrs. Joe, I would not be so understanding towards her - but somehow I think that Pip paints a rather two-dimensional picture of his sister.


message 38: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "As a sarcastic person who often speaks in hyperbole myself, I recognize it. It came as quite a surprise to me in recent years to realize that there are some who haven't a sarcastic bone in their bodies, don't get it, and certainly don't enjoy it."

I know exactly how you feel, Mary Lou. In fact, the first time I experienced people who did not think me completely nuts or strange was when I spent my first year in England, where people, unlike in Germany, do not have to announce that they are going to make a joke and give a countdown lest they should be misunderstood.

Luckily, my son has exactly picked up my kind of humour. On second thoughts, maybe I should feel guilty about having created a sarcastic 9-year old with a strong tendency to wry understatement.


message 39: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Tristram - I think German people and English people have a similar sense of humour. (Looking at sales of Chris's humorous fantasy books they do better in Germany than almost anywhere else!)

And having said that, I doubt whether many people would enjoy Dickens who do not have a good sense of humour, and appreciation of the sort of sarcasm you refer to, Mary Lou. Although oddly enough, one of the very literate and best reviewers on this site (not an American nor any nationality yet in this group) once said that she did not particularly associate Dickens with humour, which quite stunned me!


message 40: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2228 comments Jean wrote: "she did not particularly associate Dickens with humour, which quite stunned me! "

That astonishes me, as well. Think of how depressing Dickens stories would be without his humor! That's what keeps bringing me back.


message 41: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I agree! It's true of most of the classic writers I like, too :)


message 42: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "For me this was just hyperbole with the intention of injecting a bit of humor. It never occurred to me that this would have been either Pip's true recollection, or an attempt to hoodwink the reader.."

I don't disagree at all about the sarcasm, but I also think it isn't something that the young Pip would have thought. So I think the older Pip is looking back and putting his adult thoughts into Pip's mouth. Which makes me suspicious of everything attributed to the young Pip.


message 43: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) Absolutely! Undiluted misery is no fun. There's also quite a bit of humour and wit in poetry too. Those romantic poets and even the Victorians knew how to have fun.

As far as Mrs. Joe goes, I refuse to have her contributions minimized. I like to play "Mrs Joe" at home and my husband will always be willin'---like Barkas---to stand in for Pip or Joe himself. My husband is also a good sport when I play at being Mrs. Jellyby and Sairey Gamp. Sometimes we reverse roles and he is the "Father of the Marshalsea" and I alternate between Tattycoram and Maggie.


message 44: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments I have definitely missed the boat here - snoozing on the job! Afraid that I haven't read all the comments so please forgive.

Many of you seem to be quite understanding of Mrs Joe Gargery. Yes, she may have had a tough upbringing, but then there are men and women who have had abusive childhoods; the man becomes a charity worker and the woman a serial killer. Choice plays a massive role.

Mrs Joe really is a dab hand with the Tickler, her whip-type thing and her yummy tonic surpasses all other competitors, though she was not the proud inventor of this delightful tarry concoction. Pip keeps his sense of humour intact. Once being dosed with this 'elixir' he was aware of going about 'smelling' like a new fence.


message 45: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 149 comments Hahaha, Natalie! I love ❤️ it! :)


message 46: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Hilary wrote: "her yummy tonic surpasses all other competitors, though she was not the proud inventor of this delightful tarry concoction. ."

There wasn't actually tar in it, as we use the term in the US (don't know about England). It was a mixture of water and pine resin, also called pine tar. Per Wikipedia, " It is used both as a tonic and as a substitute to get rid of "strong spirits". Both these uses were originally advocated by the philosopher George Berkeley, who lauded it in his tract Siris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflections and Inquiries, Concerning the Virtues of Tar Water"...The physician Cadwallader Colden extolled the virtues of pine resin steeped in water.

Still quoting Wikipedia: Explorer Henry Ellis praises tar water as "the only powerful and prevailing medicine" against scurvy during his 1746 voyage to Hudson's Bay....In the introduction of his Journal of A Voyage to Lisbon, Henry Fielding considers tar-water a panacea for treating dropsy: "But even such a panacea one of the greatest scholars and best of men did lately apprehend he had discovered [...]. The reader, I think, will scarce need to be informed that the writer I mean is the late bishop of Cloyne, in Ireland, and the discovery that of the virtues of tar-water"

From this, I think it's not unreasonable to think that Mrs. Joe might actually have thought that it was an efficacious medicine. And it was in widespread enough use that Pumblechook instantly recognized the taste of it.


message 47: by Bionic Jean (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I've often wondered about this concoction. We have "coal tar soap" which I think may be similar to your pine resin. It is quite pungent in a resiny sort of way, and used as a traditional medicated soap.


message 48: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "[...] one of the very literate and best reviewers on this site (not an American nor any nationality yet in this group) once said that she did not particularly associate Dickens with humour, which quite stunned me!"

Jean, your friend is not the only one to think like that. A colleague of mine once told me - after I had told her about our wonderful Dickens Club here - that she did not like Dickens at all, and I replied that this astonished me in that she had a wonderful sense of humour. Then my colleague nodded and said that that was why she disliked Dickens: According to her, his stories are bleak and dismal, always about young people being treated badly and undergoing trials of all sorts, and she saw hardly any humour in Dickens.

Apparently, the inimitable humour of Dickens is not accessible to every reader. Similarly, I have known people who did not see the marvellous humour in Dostoyevsky's novels.


message 49: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
As to English and German humour, Jean, I think they are completely different in many ways. It would take pages to explain all the differences, and it would probably also make me sound like a dealer in stereotypes. However, German humour is always marked as humour, and generally irony and understatement are less common here. A German would laugh about his own joke - if only to show others where he expects them to laugh, whereas the English tongue-in-cheek thing would often go unnoticed. When the humour occurs in books, it might be different, but in everyday life, humour is not as all-pervasive in German culture as in English culture.


message 50: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4344 comments Mod
Natalie wrote: "Absolutely! Undiluted misery is no fun. There's also quite a bit of humour and wit in poetry too. Those romantic poets and even the Victorians knew how to have fun.

As far as Mrs. Joe goes, I refu..."


Hmmm, my wife has repeatedly claimed that at times I play at being Ebenezer Scrooge - usually in shopping malls, hardly ever in restaurants, though - but I see myself rather as an Artful Dodger.


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