Great Expectations

Great Expectations

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Pip's older sister and guardian after his parents' die, Mrs. Joe is fiery, tyrannical, and false, harping on her own victimhood even as she abuses Pip and Joe. She is obsessed with social status and reputation. Yet, after the attack by Orlick that gives her brain damage, Mrs. Joe's personality changes completely and she becomes patient, compassionate, and docile.

Mrs. Joe Gargery Quotes in Great Expectations

The Great Expectations quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Joe Gargery or refer to Mrs. Joe Gargery. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Great Expectations published in 2001.
Book 1, Chapter 2 Quotes

"People are put in the Hulks because they murder, and because they rob, and forge, and do all sorts of bad; and they always begin by asking questions. Now you get along to bed!"

Related Characters: Mrs. Joe Gargery (speaker), Pip Pirrip
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

Pip hears canons being fired from the Hulks (ships where prisoners were kept) and asks about the reason for the noise. His sister, Mrs. Joe, responds by scolding him for his inquisitiveness.

Mrs. Joe takes advantage of the question to offer a moral lesson for Pip, beginning a trend in the novel in which various characters offer both solicited and unsolicited advice for the adolescent protagonist. Hers is an warning against asking too many questions—which she introduces by scaling back slowly from the severity of crimes that land people in the Hulks. She begins with the worst crime of all—“they murder”—and then reduces the severity to “they rob,” then “forge,” and “do all sorts of bad." Mrs. Joe thus establishes the moral opening of the novel and stresses how harsh punishments will be leveled on those who commit a wide variety of crimes.

It is somewhat flippant to leap from murder to “asking questions” as types of bad action, and Mrs. Joe’s link thus indicates that the novel sets high stakes on digging too deeply into things. This idea will haunt Pip throughout the text, as he tries to delve deeply into London society, while remaining sufficiently ignorant of its misdoings to stay out of guilt. Mrs. Joe's scolding also foreshadows how Pip will be aided by his curiosity, particularly when it pertains to the criminal activity of the Hulks.

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Book 1, Chapter 3 Quotes

The terrors that had assailed me whenever Mrs. Joe had gone near the pantry, or out of the room, were only to be equaled by the remorse with which my mind dwelt on what my hands hand done. Under the weight of my wicked secret, I pondered whether the Church would be powerful enough to shield me from the vengeance of the terrible young man, if I divulged to that establishment. I conceived the idea that the time when the banns were read and when the clergyman said, "Ye are now to declare it!" would be the time for me to rise and propose a private conference in the vestry.

Related Characters: Pip Pirrip (speaker), Mrs. Joe Gargery
Page Number: 17
Explanation and Analysis:

As Pip organizes the stolen food and file for the convict, he feels exceedingly guilty. He considers turning the man in at the Church, hoping that the religious institution would offer him a source of security.

Dickens establishes Pip in this scene to be a sympathetic and sensitive character. Although he is nervous about being caught, he is equally crippled by “remorse” for having been placed in this morally-confusing situation. Rather than write off his act as the necessary response to a coercive threat, Pip takes full accountability for his “wicked secret.” The fact that he summons a potential explanation to the Church seems to indicate that Pip wants to purge his guilt through confession.

Yet Pip describes the Church here less as a moral or spiritual force and more as a protective social institution. Wondering if “the Church would be powerful enough” and describing it as “that establishment” highlights its infrastructural role in England. Indeed, Pip sees Christmas Mass less as a time for personal reflection or good faith and rather as a place to “propose a private conference” that would aid his own ends. Dickens thus highlights, through the perspective of an earnest child, the way the Church of England may be imagined as a pragmatic rather than solely religious institution.

Book 1, Chapter 9 Quotes

…my young mind was in that disturbed and unthankful state that I thought long after I laid me down, how common Estella would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith: how thick his boots, and how coarse his hands. I thought how Joe and my sister were then sitting in the kitchen, and how Miss Havisham and Estella never sat in a kitchen, but were far above the level of such common things.

Related Characters: Pip Pirrip (speaker), Estella Havisham, Joe Gargery, Miss Havisham, Mrs. Joe Gargery
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

After his conversation with Joe, Pip becomes perturbed at how Miss Havisham and Estella would think of his pseudo-father. Instead of heeding Joe’s advice, he is consumed by anxiety about social class and how others may interpret Joe’s behaviors.

This passage shows how Pip is becoming increasingly aware of and unhappy about his social status. He focuses on specific signifiers of that status—“how thick his boots, and how coarse his hands”—that would allow Estella to observe that Joe performs physical labor for a living. Similarly, he notes that certain spaces, such as a kitchen, as only inhabited by members of lower classes. We can see how Pip is training his own eye to interpret indicators of social class and how important Estella has become to his consciousness. After just one interaction with her, Pip is already filtering his perceptions of even his closest family members through her judgmental eyes.

The retrospective narrator notably implies that these thoughts are unreasonable and negative, considering it “that disturbed and unthankful state.” Dickens indicates that by the time the older Pip is recounting this story, he has realized that Joe was a meaningful and important character—and that he should not have regarded him with this type of disdain. Thus we can guess that Pip will eventually come to hate how judgmental he has become and that the older Pip believes the younger one should regard Joe in particular with more compassion.

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Mrs. Joe Gargery Character Timeline in Great Expectations

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Joe Gargery appears in Great Expectations. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 1
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Parents Theme Icon
...of his five brothers who never lived out of infancy. He lives with his older sister, and her husband, Joe Gargery, the town blacksmith. They live in southeast England, in "marsh... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 2
Parents Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
When Pip returns home, his uncle Joe, the blacksmith, warns Pip that Pip's sister, Mrs. Joe, has been furiously looking for him and is carrying the Tickler, a cane... (full context)
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...discern is "Pip." Pip then asks where the firing comes from and is chastised by Mrs. Joe for asking questions. After criticizing Pip's inquisitiveness at length, Mrs. Joe finally explains that the... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 4
Social Class Theme Icon
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Pip returns home from the marshes and lies about where he's been, telling Mrs. Joe that he's been out listening to the Christmas morning carols. Mrs. Joe is grumpily preparing... (full context)
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
Throughout the meal, Pip is terrified that his pantry theft will be discovered. When Mrs. Joe offers Uncle Pumblechook brandy (from the bottle Pip diluted with water after taking some for... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 6
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Parents Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
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...and Uncle Pumblechook bicker about the most likely way the convict could have broken into Mrs. Joe 's pantry. Pip, exhausted, falls swiftly asleep, but as narrator he notes that his conflicted... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 7
Social Class Theme Icon
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
...parents died, Joe explains, he lived a lonely life at the forge until he met Mrs. Joe and heard she was raising baby Pip by hand. Joe praises Mrs. Joe in spite... (full context)
Social Class Theme Icon
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Parents Theme Icon
Mrs. Joe and Uncle Pumblechook burst in after a day at the market and excitedly explain that... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 8
Social Class Theme Icon
Parents Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...Pip sobs bitterly, which, as narrator, he attributes to a sensitivity of character caused by Mrs. Joe 's harshness. He explains the crucial importance of justice to children and the constant injustice... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
Social Class Theme Icon
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Upon returning home, Pip is barraged with questions about Miss Havisham by Mrs. Joe and Uncle Pumblechook, who has ridden over for tea. Yet, because he himself has such... (full context)
Social Class Theme Icon
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
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...common before they can develop uncommon skills. He resolves not to reveal the truth to Mrs. Joe for fear of upsetting her, promises Pip he isn't angry at him, and advises Pip... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 10
Social Class Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
...In parting, the stranger gives Pip a shilling wrapped in paper which, back at home, Mrs. Joe sees is two pound notes. Joe runs back to return the money but the man... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 12
Social Class Theme Icon
Parents Theme Icon
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...except for Biddy, who expresses concern that, at the time, he did not understand. Meanwhile, Mrs. Joe and Uncle Pumblechook enjoy imagining Miss Havisham's future patronage of Pip. One day, Miss Havisham... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 13
Social Class Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
Next day, Joe and Pip set off for Miss Havisham's. Mrs. Joe has insisted on walking to town with them in all her finest to visit Uncle... (full context)
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
Pip and Joe leave Miss Havisham's and walk to Uncle Pumblechook's where Mrs. Joe has been waiting for them in a sulk, still deeply hurt that she was not... (full context)
Parents Theme Icon
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Uncle Pumblechook, Joe, and Mrs. Joe hurry Pip to the Town Hall to be officially bound as Joe's apprentice, a procedure... (full context)
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Giddy with delight at the twenty-five guineas, Mrs. Joe insists that they celebrate it with a dinner at the Blue Boar, inviting Uncle Pumblechook,... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 15
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
...is "Dolge") hears about Pip's half-holiday and angrily demands one for himself. When Joe assents, Mrs. Joe (who has been spying on their conversation from the yard) protests that Joe is wasting... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 16
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...Pip is convinced he himself must have had something to do with the crime against Mrs. Joe , and that he is the most likely suspect (a guilt he attributes as narrator... (full context)
Parents Theme Icon
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...seeks to please him with "an air of humble propitiation." Pip is disappointed that his sister does not denounce Orlick. Thereafter, Mrs. Joe asks for Orlick to come to her daily,... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 34
Parents Theme Icon
...of adding up debts, Pip receives a letter signed Trabb & Co. informing him that Mrs. Joe has died and inviting him to her burial next week. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 35
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...mourning costumes in the forge's parlor. Joe confides to Pip that he'd wanted to carry Mrs. Joe on his own, but that he'd been told it would disrespectful. (full context)
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Pip asks to hear the particulars of Mrs. Joe 's death and Biddy tells him her last words were "Joe," "Pardon," and "Pip." Pip... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 53
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...coming between him and Biddy. He adds that it was Pip who's to blame for Mrs. Joe getting clubbed, because it was Pip being treated as a favorite at the forge that... (full context)