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Great Expectations > GE, Chapter 011

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message 1: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod
This re-cap is from Peter, I wasn't sure if he was up to posting it quite yet. I'm sorry Peter if you were ready. (Mine are never this good). :-)

In Chapter 11 we return with Pip to Satis House to visit Miss Havisham. Once again, Pip is met at the gate by Estella, who first admits Pip, then locks the gate behind him, and, once again, leads him down a darkened passage with a candle. Pip is taken to a gloomy room and told to stand by a window until he is summoned. In this same room were three ladies and one gentleman who Pip decides are all "toadies and humbugs." Estella returns, leads Pip down yet another dark passage carrying a candle. Estella suddenly stops, asks Pip what he thinks of her and, not getting a suitable answer, slaps Pip's face. Not the best way to begin a visit to someone's home.

The next event occurs when Pip meets a man on the stairs who was "burly" with "an exceedingly dark complexion." This event is discouraging too as the man says " I have a pretty large experience of boys, and you're a bad set of fellows." The man bits "the side of his great forefinger" which Pip notices "smelt of scented soap" and the proceeds down the stairs. If these first events at Satis House are not enough to discourage even the best of people, Pip then meets Miss Havisham who tells Pip to go into an adjoining room.

If the opening events of this chapter have not yet been Kafka-ish enough, Pip finds himself in a spacious room "covered with dust and mould." In the middle of a table sat something that "seeming to grow, like a black fungus." To complete the scene we read of "speckled-legged spiders ... mice ...blackbeetles [and] crawling things." Miss Havisham tells Pip the object is her "bride-cake."

Questions:

Can you recall any Dickens novel that has been so continuously disturbing and bizarre in its opening chapters?

There must be some reason for the extravagant and lush writing of Dickens. What are your speculations?


Miss Havisham orders Pip to "Walk me, walk me!" For a movie/TV producer this must be a delightful scene to create for viewers. Estella is summoned back into this room of merry-go-round Miss Havisham and appears again with "her light" and brings the three woman and the gentleman Pip saw earlier in the discarded garden. Still Pip pushes Miss Havisham around the room. Miss Havisham proceeds to point out where the Pocket family - the three women and one gentleman Pip met earlier - will stand to view her corpse. Who or what is most tattered, degraded and decayed ... the wedding cake or Miss Havisham? I keep thinking Tristram could make this chapter into a grand film noir.

Finally, Pip is taken down to the yard and "fed in the former dog like manner."

Now, where have we seen this description before? Hmmmm...

Pip, now in a blighted and unused garden, comes across "a pale young gentleman" who says to Pip "Come and fight" and then proceeds to pull Pip's hair and butts Pip in the stomach. Pip hits him, and hits him again, and hits the pale young gentleman hard. Pip records " that the more I hit him, the harder I hit him." As Pip leaves Satis House he sees on Estella's face "a bright flush ... as though something had happened to delight her." Estella invites Pip to kiss her.

And so, after what must have been a very bizarre and exhausting day, Pip leaves the field of battle and Satis House with the memory of Estella's cheek on his lips and heads towards home. The chapter ends with the words "where Joe's furnace was flinging a path of fire across the road."

Questions:

Why do you think Estella's cheek had a "bright flush" and she let Pip kiss her?

What do you make of the constant references to ruined gardens, dark passages, and Estella's association with light.

As mentioned earlier in our discussions, there seems to be a disproportionate use of physical pain and violence in this novel. From Mrs. Joe's bringing both Joe and Pip "by hand," to Pip's convict turning Pip upside down and threatening to eat him, to Estella slapping Pip's face, to the Satis House boxing match the novel is a very physical one. Can you recall any other Dickens novel that is so physical?

What might be the reason(s) for such a physical novel?

Once again, Dickens ends the chapter on a very cryptic and perhaps symbolic note. Do you see any suggestive meanings in the last sentence of the chapter?

As always, your own ideas, insights and comments are welcome.


message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2923 comments Mod
Hi Kim

No worries.

I've got chapters 12&13 ready to go. If you/Tristram want the honour of posting the first of our new chapter commentaries please do so. Either of you deserve to launch our new venture.

I will be waiting at The Three Jolly Bargemen for a reply. Failing that, I understand the 21C has a thing called a PM. Just let me know. :-)


message 3: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "Why do you think Estella's cheek had a "bright flush" and she let Pip kiss her?"

Did she think Pip and the pale young gentleman were fighting over her, and Pip won, so she was rewarding the winner?


message 4: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) I cannot, off the top of my head, think of any other Dickens novel that is so physically painful. I think that Estella is excited by the violence.

The final paragraph is really intriguing:
"......when I neared home the light on the spit of sand off the point on the marshes was gleaming against a black night-sky, and Joe's furnace was flinging a path of fire across the road."

A path of fire is a path of life, of danger and perhaps passion. One might also think back to chapter 5 when Joe provides the fire for the sergeants. Joe's fire provides livelihood for the family and also provides a means of capturing the convicts.

In chapter 8 we see Miss Havisham as a figure without fire. She's "a skeleton in the ashes" of her dress. Pip sees Estelle in Chapter 8 "pass among the extinguished fires."

It's probably overly simple, but I see that perhaps "fire" will be the sign of life and nurturance, as it's associated with Joe but a more complicated symbol when it comes to the residents of Satis House.


message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2923 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "Kim wrote: "Why do you think Estella's cheek had a "bright flush" and she let Pip kiss her?"

Did she think Pip and the pale young gentleman were fighting over her, and Pip won, so she was rewardin..."


Yes. That's what I'm thinking too. Estella seems quite pleased that she can be the cause of pain between men.


message 6: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2923 comments Mod
Natalie wrote: "I cannot, off the top of my head, think of any other Dickens novel that is so physically painful. I think that Estella is excited by the violence.

The final paragraph is really intriguing:
"........."


Natalie

I like your comments and how you have drawn earlier points of the story into your answer.

I don't think you are being "overly simple" at all. Indeed, that is why I suggested we should consider the last sentence clearly. To me, and perhaps it is at least partly because of the weekly format in publishing GE, Dickens seems to be writing a very direct and clearly focussed novel so far.


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments So, here you all are. Is this a parallel universe, but in this universe GE has a different ending?

I was surprised with the ease with which Pip dispatched his much taller fancy-footed opponent. Where did that come from? How many times did he drop him, two, three times? Pip, you've been holding out on us.

I agree with Natalie and Kim as to Estella's motives. However is it possible she's a bit flattered too? She's young and maybe feeling a bit of both.

Also, there are several descriptions -- a withered hand for one -- indicating Miss Havisham is beyond her forties. But as Jonathan pointed out back in that other universe, this could be Pip projecting his impression of her from that rather shocking first meeting (my words, not Jonathan's).


message 8: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "I was surprised with the ease with which Pip dispatched his much taller fancy-footed opponent. Where did that come from? How many times did he drop him, two, three times? ."

First of all, welcome Xan! I'm glad you found the new group so quickly.

Now as to Pip, I'm not surprised. He's a country boy, living by the forge, roaming out on the marshes, so I'm sure he's had his share of hard work, perhaps practicing with the blacksmith's hammer and anvil, but outdoors much of the time, whereas it seems as though the pale young man is probably a city boy, not living mostly indoors (which is what I take the pale to reflect), and probably protected by his parents from the rough and tumble of life.

Why he challenges Pip to a fight I have no idea, though -- does anybody have an idea about that? Is it because Pip is a stranger intruding in what he sees as his space? Or is he in love with Estella and sees Pip as a rival? What's might be his reasons for immediately challenging Pip?


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Thanks, Everyman.

Your point about Pip is a probably right on and pretty much what Jonathan said to me over in that other place. I think the fancy-footed bad boxer sees Pip as a rival. Didn't he challenge Pip immediately following Pip telling him he was with Estella? I wonder how many young men Estella might have lurking in the dark halls of Satis House. Good think Pip can defend himself.


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Satis House.

Satis is an Indian word that describes the act of a widow throwing herself on her husband's funeral pyre. Combine this with that first impression we all have of Miss Havisham sitting in the room in which time has stopped, and it raises some interesting questions about her. Might keep it in mind as we read on.

I didn't know what Satis meant, but having read enough of Dickens that when I saw it I immediately looked it up and said to myself hmmm... There's even a Wikipedia entry for Satis.


message 11: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2228 comments Everyman wrote: "Why he challenges Pip to a fight I have no idea, though -- does anybody have an idea about that? Is it because Pip is a stranger intruding in what he sees as his space? Or is he in love with Estella and sees Pip as a rival? What's might be his reasons for immediately challenging Pip?"

I've often wondered about this. Having two girls, I thought maybe it's just a boy thing. The pale boy doesn't seem to be particularly aggressive or violent; he approaches Pip in much the same way as if he was asking if Pip wanted to play catch. Perhaps Estella put him up to it, which certainly wouldn't surprise me.


message 12: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2228 comments Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Satis House.

Satis is an Indian word that describes the act of a widow throwing herself on her husband's funeral pyre. Combine this with that first impression we all have of Miss Havisham sitting ..."


This was a fascinating and illuminating tidbit, and leads me to see things quite differently than when considering its Latin meaning, "enough".


message 13: by Peter (last edited Feb 02, 2017 07:46PM) (new)

Peter | 2923 comments Mod
Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Satis House.

Satis is an Indian word that describes the act of a widow throwing herself on her husband's funeral pyre. Combine this with that first impression we all have of Miss Havisham sitting ..."


Yes. Your hmmm is very understandable. I have always simply taken the word to be as it is stated to mean in the text in Chapter VIII. As we know, Dickens does enjoy language, and creating double meanings with character names and the like. A recent book I read The Ideas in Things: Fugitive Meaning in the Victorian Novel has also scraped some rust off my spider sense.


message 14: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod
It is wonderful to see you all here. I do believe that I am now all caught up reading all the comments and I'm finally going to bed. :-)


message 15: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4346 comments Mod
What I liked about that strange pale boy is his sense of fairness - apart, maybe from ramming his head into Pip's chest in order to give him a reason for a fight. After all, he sets down some rules for the fight and even provides a sponge and a bottle of water - for the use of both parties, as he says. The pale boy might consider Pip as an intruder, and it might even have something to do with Estella. It can be the case that Miss Havisham has that boy around, too, for no other purpose than Estella to "break his heart".

I also said in the other thread that Estella's delight showing in her face and her offering Pip to kiss her might originate from the fact that she now sees that Pip is no weakling. Although I wonder how he could so easily have felled the other boy; maybe it's doing daily chores that gives him brawn. Be that as it may, I would think that Estella will value her power over Pip all the more now that she sees that he can stand his own ground in other contexts.


message 16: by Linda (new)

Linda | 362 comments I was also surprised by the challenge given by this other boy to Pip and by Pip's ability to knock down this boy three times. It seemed to me that this other boy was probably used to challenging others to fight, he seemed so at ease in doing so, and so I would have expected him to be able to get in at least a knock or two. As to him being a rival, I think to some extent that he seemed too good-natured for that, in my opinion. The entire scene looked to me as if challenging another to a fight was just a way of playing with other boys his age, all in good fun. Growing up as a girl, I don't see the "fun" in this. However, I grew up among a brother and boy cousins, and now seeing my husband and son interact, this sort of fighting looks to be all in good fun, to some extent. (however, I see more wrestling rather than full-out punching in the face!). On the other hand, who in their right mind challenges a stranger to a fight upon first meeting? So, there probably is some amount of rivalry, but possibly in a softhearted manner?

I was both horrified and delighted at the scene that we were presented with as Miss Havisham walked with Pip around the dusty and spider-laden bridal table. I say I was delighted because it was a completely unexpected horror, but the descriptions were eerie and, as Peter mentioned in his recap, this must be a fun scene for movie directors to make come to life.

My favorite quote from this section, concerning the cobwebby cake on the table:

and, as I looked along the yellow expanse out of which I remember its seeming to grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if some circumstance of the greatest public importance had just transpired in the spider community.

As an aside, I am currently also reading Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage, and this morning I read a part about the Antarctic winters where there is no daylight for about 4 months total and it is noted that it is a difficult time to live in darkness for so long and that many a men have gone mad trying to do so. The book goes on to relate an incident aboard another ship, the Belgica, where in 1899 the crew succumbed to melancholy during this long winter and "In order to offset the terrifying symptoms of insanity they saw in themselves, they took to walking in a circle around the ship. The route came to be known as 'madhouse promenade'." Now, if that doesn't remind me of Miss Havisham in this chapter, walking around her table in that awful dark and dusty room, while I'm wondering at her state of mind, I don't know what does!


message 17: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2228 comments Lynne - the 'madhouse promenade' reminds me of stereotypy, which is repeating a movement over and over again. As I recall, it's presumed to be caused by stress, and you can see it in a lot of zoo animals. I remember the polar bear who was at the National Zoo when I was a child used to do a circuit around his enclosure, which brought him to the underwater window that we looked through. As we stood there, he circled dozens of times, with his giant back paw pushing off from the exact same spot on that window each time. It was something to see. At the time, I didn't realize it was a stress-induced behaviour resulting from his captivity. Hopefully the "good" zoos do what they can to prevent stereotypy in their animals these days.

How interesting to think of that polar bear and equate it with Miss Havisham's self-imposed captivity and the stress she seems to bring on herself. Fascinating.


message 18: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2923 comments Mod
Linda and Mary Lou

Fascinating information from you both. Thank you. My copy of GE is rapidly being filled with notations, references to other books, and insights. Perhaps I need to buy another copy for fresh pages.


message 19: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 04, 2017 12:48PM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) This is such a visual novel! No wonder it's been filmed so many times. Yet reading the passages of description they are so much richer and denser than can ever be captured through pictures. Or not in the same way anyhow. Linda's choice of witty quotation came from my favourite part:

"It was spacious, and I dare say had once been handsome, but every discernible thing in it was covered with dust and mould, and dropping to pieces. The most prominent object was a long table with a tablecloth spread on it, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the clocks all stopped together. An epergne or centrepiece of some kind was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with cobwebs that its form was quite undistinguishable; and, as I looked along the yellow expanse out of which I remember its seeming to grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckled-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if some circumstances of the greatest public importance had just transpired in the spider community.

I heard the mice too, rattling behind the panels, as if the same occurrence were important to their interests. But, the blackbeetles took no notice of the agitation, and groped about the hearth in a ponderous elderly way, as if they were short-sighted and hard of hearing, and not on terms with one another.

These crawling things had fascinated my attention and I was watching them from a distance, when Miss Havisham laid a hand upon my shoulder. In her other hand she had a crutch-headed stick on which she leaned, and she looked like the Witch of the place."


I had completely forgotten about all the creepy-crawlies and only remembered the dustiness and gothic elements.

I'd also forgotten the (presumbly older Pip) narrator's knowing attitude toward the relatives of Miss Havisham.


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Imagine the shock Pip received when, while immersed in this vision, Miss Havisham laid her "withered" hand upon his shoulder.


message 21: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 04, 2017 01:06PM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Exactly! The stuff of all horror films forever after :)

I think it's even more powerful being reported through young eyes, without much perspective, knowledge of the word or a wider context. People have been speculating how old Miss Havisham is, but (without revealing spoilers here) it's as well to bear in mind how old you thought middle-aged people were when you were little.

There is a family story of how when I was taken to a museum as a small child, and shown an ancient tombstone, I said, "But that's even older than Grandma!"

It became a family motto for ever afterwards, but was actually very meaningful to me!


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Jean wrote: "it's as well to bear in mind how old you thought middle-aged people were when you were little...."

Good point.


message 23: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
In the Chapters 1-2 thread, Jean wrote: "I have a love-hate relationship with Pip's older sister. She's so entertaining, but such a harridan."

I have a different sense about Mrs. Joe. For the first time in the several I've read this book I really thought about what her life must have been like. She lost both her parents, her mother perhaps in childbirth, but as far as we know she was the oldest surviving child (being 20 years older than Pip this makes sense, so I'm assuming it) apparently of just two surviving children. So she would have watched her mother give birth to child after child, probably had to do a lot of the child care as the older daughter, and watched the children die one by one.

Then her mother died, and she was saddled with Pip just about the time she would have been a young woman trying to get married (it seems from Joe that she was caring for Pip before they got married), which must have been hard.

She could hardly, living in this remote area (if her parents and siblings were buried out in that remote churchyard, presumably she was raised in the area and not in town) and being saddled with the care of her young brother, have had the scope for much wooing or being wooed; she had to take whoever would take her.

Unless I missed it, they have no servant, and if they did it would presumably just be a very young and untrained girl. But Mrs. Joe had to do all the housework for a man and bring up a boy who wasn't her own, which in that day and age was a lot of work. No labor saving devices; laundry had to be done by hand, hauling and heating water, scrubbing, wringing out, ironing; then there's cooking over a wood or coal stove, preparing the vegetables (no just getting a bag of frozen peas out of the freezer and popping them into the microwave), cleaning (no vacuum or floor scrubber here; sweeping, dusting, scrubbing the floors probably with yellow soap on hands and knees) washing dishes not with nice Palmolive soap that softens the hands, but again hauling in water, heating it on the stove, washing the dishes with harsh soap and a dishrag, of course no non-stick pans but having to clean the pans with sand or a steel scrubber, and on and on. It was a hard life for a woman.

And it doesn't seem that either Joe or Pip did much helping around the house; at any rate, none is mentioned that I recall. Joe is a very nice man, but seems in the house to just sit by the fire and let Mrs. Joe do all the work.

And obviously Joe doesn't do much disciplining of Pip; even when he finds out that Pip is a blatant liar, a pretty significant problem in that day and age, he doesn't really discipline him, but just tells him not to do it again. All the disciplining is left to Mrs. Joe.

All in all, it was a hard life, and from what we see a pretty thankless one (do we ever hear either Pip or Joe thanking her for anything or expressing any appreciation for all the work she does?). It's no wonder she's a bit sour. Who wouldn't be under those circumstances?

All in all, just from the surface given us in the story It's easy to like him and not to like her. But if we really try to look at the life they were living, the unseen 90% of the iceberg hidden underwater, is that really fair?


message 24: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Linda and Lynne, great comments on the walkaround and stress. Linda, I LOVE the stories of Shackleton.

[OT: if others don't know him and the extraordinary journey of the James Caird you must read about it. Either Endurance, or Frank Worley's Shackleton's Boat Voyage. What I find most extraordinary is that in several long expeditions to some of the harshest and most dangerous places on earth, and despite being shipwrecked in Antarctic ice thousands of miles from any help, he never lost a single man.]


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
I just realized how much I can relate to Miss Havisham being walked around and around the table.

I've been having trouble with my leg. I'm supposed to walk, but only on flat, level ground. Well, where I live, on a narrow rural road and a property mostly in its original state, there's no such thing as flat, level ground, so a few times a day I go into the game room and walk around and around the ping-pong table, clockwise for 10 or so circuits, then counter-clockwise for 10 or so circuits to balance things out. I hadn't associated this with Miss H until Linda's post, then suddenly it clicked that, except for Pip's helping hand, I'm doing exactly what she is! (And, of course, except for my MP3 player and audio books, and thank goodness for those or I really would go mad!)


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

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Quite correct. And some of this is in living memory ... For instance all my grandmother ever used was one sort of green soap for everything, including washing sheets etc. She had no hot water on tap - had to boil it all. No washing machine, no bathroom, no inside toilet. Tin bath in front of the coal fire. You had to go outside and up some steps to the toilet - through the snow sometimes. Everything was cooked on a range in very small living room. Yet she brought up a large family (including some of those aunts I mentioned).

Its no surprise really that in photographs the women looked so grim and determined. They had to be! I remember all this very clearly, as I used to visit her twice a week as a child, and bring some buckets of coal up from the cellar. So I quite agree with your points, Everyman.

On the other hand, she is a ripe target for one of Dickens's grotesque exaggerations, isn't she?

And I disagree about Joe not giving her due consideration. His life in the forge can't have been an easy one. When he told Pip his story, it was clear that he took both Pip's sister and Pip on for life - a ready-made family. He also defends Pips's sister's behaviour when Pip hints anything critical behind her back. No, Joe is indeed a good soul :)


message 27: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2923 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "In the Chapters 1-2 thread, Jean wrote: "I have a love-hate relationship with Pip's older sister. She's so entertaining, but such a harridan."

I have a different sense about Mrs. Joe. For the firs..."


There is no question that a woman's life could be just as hard as a man's if the family could not afford even a woman or girl-of-all-work. Evidently Joe could not afford such a luxury, or could it be Mrs. Joe would not allow one so that she could impose a self-inflicted martyrdom on herself?

Your comments bring us around again to our discussion of the narrative voice. We have detected incidences where the mature Pip has been fleetingly heard from in our story so far. Pip does feel guilt about his actions such as lying to Joe, but I have not detected any compassionate feelings towards Mrs. Joe as yet. Pip seems only to fear her. One could, I suppose, still love someone whom you fear.

Pip is being presented in these opening chapters as a more complicated character than the earlier David Copperfield. Something tells me this novel will offer many more questions than Dickens's earlier novels.


message 28: by Natalie (new)

Natalie Tyler (doulton) It's not much of a comment, but Pip is in an unusual position: he is an orphan, as many of the children in Dickens's works are but his older sister has functioned as a parent (bringing him up "by hand". Joe, too, has functioned as a parent (and a friend).
The very first paragraph of the novel is about Pip's name. Then the convict calls him a dog--and one good enough to eat.
Mr Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe call Pip a "squeaker" in chapter 4 and imply that he might be served at the dinner table.

Pumblechook early on in Chapter 4 calls Pip "Sixpennorth of halfpence".

As I read I will continue to see if there are more references to Pip being like an edible animal or like a small amount of money. Perhaps there's a connection between food, money, and who is eaten and who eats?

Certainly the spiders feasting on the wedding cake also complicates the idea of the privilege of eating and/or being eaten.


message 29: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Natalie wrote: "... Pip is in an unusual position: he is an orphan, as many of the children in Dickens's works are .."

Not only in Dickens's works, but many others. Becky Sharp, Jane Eyre, Tom Jones, Heathcliff, Emma, the list goes on and on.

An orphan makes a very convenient hero or heroine, because lacking parental support and oversight (and inheritance) they have to make their own way in the world, which gives much more scope for the author's creativity and for putting them in situations where they have to overcome by their own intelligence and wits rather than having parents to solve their problems for them, or to get in the way of their going off adventuring.


message 30: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 05, 2017 03:06AM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) Natalie - good points about Pip's lack of name and identity, and being classed as an edible animal or object. It's certainly a good way to quash a small boy's energetic nature - or any self-esteem. Children had to be "seen and not heard" as we all know. I'm put in mind of photographs of classrooms with all the children sitting at a desk with their hands folded behind their backs and the teacher with a wooden rule ready to strike. And these were the "privileged" ones who went to school!

In David Copperfield we noticed how many name changes the protagonist went through - more than any other I believe. Each seemed to indicate both the way he was viewed by others, and also his own sense of self-worth. If we relate it to our own personal nicknames, pet names, our friends' names for us and our formal names, it can be very revealing.

I'm also starting to notice another motif, that of time, specifically represented by clocks. Peter, are you tallying these up for us?


message 31: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4346 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "The entire scene looked to me as if challenging another to a fight was just a way of playing with other boys his age, all in good fun. Growing up as a girl, I don't see the "fun" in this. However, I grew up among a brother and boy cousins, and now seeing my husband and son interact, this sort of fighting looks to be all in good fun, to some extent."

Boys just like that sort of thing, trying to figure out who is better and stronger ... When my son is playing games or doing sports with me, there is always some amount of ambition coming into play, and he really likes to win. The other day, he won at nine men's morris, and he was so happy he just told everyone in the family that he beat me. When my little daughter "fights" with me, and she has the impression that she won - she looks at me and says, in order that I do not feel too bad, "We have both won, okay?" It's funny to see how she tries to cheer me up.

I remember a similar scene to the fight in GE in one of the first chapters of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. When Tom meets a boy he has never seen before, the first thing the two kids do is challenge each other, and then they fight. As long as these fights are fair and good-natured, I don't see anything really bad or cruel about them, but my wife and my son's teacher think in a different vein ;-)


message 32: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4346 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Lynne - the 'madhouse promenade' reminds me of stereotypy, which is repeating a movement over and over again. As I recall, it's presumed to be caused by stress, and you can see it in a lot of zoo a..."

It's all a matter of the size of the compounds, for starters. I remember exactly the same thing from my childhood - just that is was an old wolf who walked around in circles. Nowadays, they have extremely large wolf compounds here, and I have never seen an unhappy wolf in our city's zoo.

As to Miss Havisham: Miss Havisham's desire to be lead around the table with the cake seems to indicate that her whole life is revolving about that single humiliation she has suffered; it is the centre of her existence. I also noticed that strange kind of pride in it when she says,

"This [...] is where I will be laid when I am dead. They shall come and look at me here."


Come and look at her dead body lying on the wedding table? Does she really think that this is some kind of achievement that should be beheld by everyone? Are her relatives supposed to feel sorry for her? To have a bad conscience? - A little bit later, she suggests that her family will "feast upon" her body when she is dead. So she probably suspects that Sarah Pocket and the others will feel relieved when she is dead and they can finally get at the inheritance. - And who is that Matthew, who seems to be the only one that refuses to grovel in line with the other legacy hunters?


message 33: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4346 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "In the Chapters 1-2 thread, Jean wrote: "I have a love-hate relationship with Pip's older sister. She's so entertaining, but such a harridan."

I have a different sense about Mrs. Joe. For the firs..."


I am fully with you on this question, Everyman. The vast range of her daily chores, especially doing the laundry and the cleaning, would also explain her sore complexion. I also have the impression that Pip's narrative voice is often very unkind on her and pretends to know motives for her actions when these motives could not really be known, and the way the narrator presents these motives, they are hardly very flattering to Mrs. Joe.

The narrator's treatment of Mrs. Joe also reminds me a little bit of Dickens's treatment of his wife: She has borne him several children, she looked after his home and family, and one day, Dickens found her too bland for him and separated from her. Maybe, Dickens did just not appreciate what women like Mrs. Joe or Catherine Dickens did.


message 34: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4346 comments Mod
Everyman wrote: "I just realized how much I can relate to Miss Havisham being walked around and around the table.

I've been having trouble with my leg. I'm supposed to walk, but only on flat, level ground. Well, ..."


There were situations in my studies when I went into a nearby forest, found myself a wonderful clearing and walked round and round its confines, all the while committing the contents of the lectures I had attended to my memory. When you want to learn, walking (in circles) is a good way of achieving success.


message 35: by Tristram (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4346 comments Mod
Natalie wrote: "It's not much of a comment, but Pip is in an unusual position: he is an orphan, as many of the children in Dickens's works are but his older sister has functioned as a parent (bringing him up "by h..."

Even the name "Pip" itself seems to suggest smallness or maybe even meanness - not in the sense of being nasty, but being of little accout. I cannot help thinking of orange pips whenever I read that name.


message 36: by Peter (last edited Feb 05, 2017 09:09AM) (new)

Peter | 2923 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "Natalie - good points about Pip's lack of name and identity, and being classed as an edible animal or object. It's certainly a good way to quash a small boy's energetic nature - or any self-esteem...."

Jean

As you noted, Natalie has come across the fact that Pip is frequently being classed as "an edible animal or object." I think that is a great observation and Natalie is on to something interesting and it deserves following. Your observation that there seems to be a very clear and continuous reference to time, "specifically represented by clocks" is yet another key motif. If we could expand the concept of time beyond simply clocks we will perhaps see the concept of time tumbling down upon our story seemingly from everywhere. Something certainly to keep our eyes open for as well.


My focus so far in our reading has been on fighting and other actions of violence. I'm not sure if Natalie wants to continue tracking the "eating" references or you would like to continue to track the "time" references or not.

I have learned a new word -stereotypy. Will I be labelled stereotypic if I now obsessively track references to violence, eating and time? I believe that fighting, eating and time might all become keys to our understanding and appreciation of the novel. Wot larks!
:-)


message 37: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 05, 2017 09:11AM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) I think we're all relying on you to do exactly that Peter :) It was you who drew my attention to Dickens's continual references to clocks and birds as metaphors in the first place.

P.S. I'm not sure "What larks!" can count as a bird reference however ...


message 38: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2923 comments Mod
Jean wrote: "I think we're all relying on you to do exactly that Peter :) It was you who drew my attention to Dickens's continual references to clocks and birds as metaphors in the first place.

P.S. I'm not su..."


First I laughed when I saw the picture of the van you posted. Now I'm laughing again.

I shall sharpen my pencil, buy a new notepad, and get to work on tracking for you. This will be my challenge for GE ... Can I track more than one central symbol/metaphor/troupe and not be labelled stereotypic? Natalie ... help ....


I will most definitely count "Wot larks"as a bird reference.


message 39: by Bionic Jean (last edited Feb 05, 2017 10:11AM) (new)

Bionic Jean (bionicjean) LOL Peter - It is so lovely to be again in the company of people who appreciate the absurd, as the great man himself did, and in a safe space :)


message 40: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Tristram wrote: As to Miss Havisham: Miss Havisham's desire to be lead around the table with the cake seems to indicate that her whole life is revolving about that single humiliation she has suffered; it is the centre of her existence. "

Very nice observation.


message 41: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod


"It's a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine!"

John McLenan

1860

Harper's Weekly

Text Illustrated:

"I crossed the staircase landing, and entered the room she indicated. From that room, too, the daylight was completely excluded, and it had an airless smell that was oppressive. A fire had been lately kindled in the damp old-fashioned grate, and it was more disposed to go out than to burn up, and the reluctant smoke which hung in the room seemed colder than the clearer air,--like our own marsh mist. Certain wintry branches of candles on the high chimney-piece faintly lighted the chamber; or it
would be more expressive to say, faintly troubled its darkness. It was spacious, and I dare say had once been handsome, but every discernible thing in it was covered with dust and mould, and dropping to pieces. The most prominent object was a long table with a tablecloth spread on it, as if a feast had been in preparation when the house and the clocks all stopped together. An epergne or centre-piece of some kind was in the middle of this cloth; it was so heavily overhung with cobwebs that its
form was quite undistinguishable; and, as I looked along the yellow expanse out of which I remember its seeming to grow, like a black fungus, I saw speckle-legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if some circumstances of the greatest public importance had just transpired in the spider community.

I heard the mice too, rattling behind the panels, as if the same
occurrence were important to their interests. But the black beetles took no notice of the agitation, and groped about the hearth in a ponderous elderly way, as if they were short-sighted and hard of hearing, and not on terms with one another.

These crawling things had fascinated my attention, and I was watching them from a distance, when Miss Havisham laid a hand upon my shoulder. In her other hand she had a crutch-headed stick on which she leaned, and she looked like the Witch of the place.

"This," said she, pointing to the long table with her stick, "is where I will be laid when I am dead. They shall come and look at me here."

With some vague misgiving that she might get upon the table then and there and die at once, the complete realization of the ghastly waxwork at the Fair, I shrank under her touch.

"What do you think that is?" she asked me, again pointing with her stick; "that, where those cobwebs are?"

"I can't guess what it is, ma'am."

"It's a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine!"



message 42: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod



"He said, 'Aha! would you?' and began dancing backward and forward"

Chapter 11

F. A. Fraser.

1877

Household Edition

Text Illustrated:

"When I had exhausted the garden and a greenhouse with nothing in it but a fallen-down grape-vine and some bottles, I found myself in the dismal corner upon which I had looked out of the window. Never questioning for a moment that the house was now empty, I looked in at another window, and found myself, to my great surprise, exchanging a broad stare with a pale young gentleman with red eyelids and light hair.

This pale young gentleman quickly disappeared, and reappeared beside me. He had been at his books when I had found myself staring at him, and I now saw that he was inky.

"Halloa!" said he, "young fellow!"

Halloa being a general observation which I had usually observed to be best answered by itself, I said, "Halloa!" politely omitting young fellow.

"Who let you in?" said he.

"Miss Estella."

"Who gave you leave to prowl about?"

"Miss Estella."

"Come and fight," said the pale young gentleman.

What could I do but follow him? I have often asked myself the question since; but what else could I do? His manner was so final, and I was so astonished, that I followed where he led, as if I had been under a spell.

"Stop a minute, though," he said, wheeling round before we had gone many paces. "I ought to give you a reason for fighting, too. There it is!"
In a most irritating manner he instantly slapped his hands against one another, daintily flung one of his legs up behind him, pulled my hair, slapped his hands again, dipped his head, and butted it into my stomach.

The bull-like proceeding last mentioned, besides that it was
unquestionably to be regarded in the light of a liberty, was
particularly disagreeable just after bread and meat. I therefore hit out at him and was going to hit out again, when he said, "Aha! Would you?" and began dancing backwards and forwards in a manner quite unparalleled within my limited experience."



message 43: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod

"An Unexpected Pleasure For Pip"

Harry Furniss

1910

Dicken's Library Edition

Text Illustrated:

"When I got into the courtyard, I found Estella waiting with the keys.
But she neither asked me where I had been, nor why I had kept her
waiting; and there was a bright flush upon her face, as though something
had happened to delight her. Instead of going straight to the gate, too,
she stepped back into the passage, and beckoned me.

"Come here! You may kiss me, if you like."

I kissed her cheek as she turned it to me. I think I would have gone
through a great deal to kiss her cheek. But I felt that the kiss was
given to the coarse common boy as a piece of money might have been, and
that it was worth nothing.

What with the birthday visitors, and what with the cards, and what with
the fight, my stay had lasted so long, that when I neared home the light
on the spit of sand off the point on the marshes was gleaming against
a black night-sky, and Joe's furnace was flinging a path of fire across
the road."



message 44: by Kim (last edited Feb 06, 2017 11:54AM) (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod

Pip and Miss Havisham

Chapter 11

Charles Green

Gadshill Edition

The Annotated Dickens provides the following caption, which is not in the original Gadshill Edition:

Miss Havisham laid a hand upon my shoulder. In her other hand she had a crutch-headed stick on which she leaned, and she looked like the Witch of the place.

"This," said she pointing to the long table with her stick, "is where I shall be laid when I am dead. They shall come and look at me here."


Text Illustrated:

"She held the head of her stick against her heart as she stood looking
at the table; she in her once white dress, all yellow and withered; the
once white cloth all yellow and withered; everything around in a state
to crumble under a touch.

"When the ruin is complete," said she, with a ghastly look, "and when
they lay me dead, in my bride's dress on the bride's table,--which shall
be done, and which will be the finished curse upon him,--so much the
better if it is done on this day!"

She stood looking at the table as if she stood looking at her own figure
lying there. I remained quiet. Estella returned, and she too remained
quiet. It seemed to me that we continued thus for a long time. In
the heavy air of the room, and the heavy darkness that brooded in its
remoter corners, I even had an alarming fancy that Estella and I might
presently begin to decay."



message 45: by Kim (new)

Kim | 5523 comments Mod
There are times in my search for illustrations something comes up that, while interesting, if I can't find where it came from I usually skip it. This one I can't resist.




message 46: by Peter (new)

Peter | 2923 comments Mod
Kim wrote: "There are times in my search for illustrations something comes up that, while interesting, if I can't find where it came from I usually skip it. This one I can't resist.

"


Kim

Thank you. This is a fascinating image. Cake, cane, clock and candle. Sorry, could not resist all the "c''s. And then all those spider/dust webs. The single mouse/rat at the bottom centre looking up at her is downright creepy.


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) | 867 comments Love it.


message 48: by Mary Lou (new)

Mary Lou | 2228 comments Kim wrote: "There are times in my search for illustrations something comes up that, while interesting, if I can't find where it came from I usually skip it. This one I can't resist."


Looks a bit like Edward Gorey's work. I know he did some Dickens illustrations, but I don't know about this one.


message 49: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 829 comments Mod
Mary Lou wrote: "Looks a bit like Edward Gorey's work. I know he did some Dickens illustrations, but I don't know about this one. ."

He at least did a Bleak House for the Literary Guild of America, which you can buy second-hand for $9 including shipping if you care.

https://www.abebooks.com/servlet/Book...


message 50: by Tristram (last edited Feb 09, 2017 03:28AM) (new)

Tristram Shandy | 4346 comments Mod
Wow, Kim, what a fascinating picture. Reminds me of the Chinese shadow plays, and I can easily imagine an animation film of GE working that way. It seems to reinforce my impression that GE is bes in black and white ;-)


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