Mrs. Joe plays an important role in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, in which she helps completing the story, and revealing the cruel reality of being a lower individual on the Great Chain of Being. First of all, Mrs. Joe’s existence makes the relationship between Joe and Pip become stronger. As soon as Mrs. Joe appears, an image of an abusiveness woman has been vividly presented in front of the readers. As the Joe states in the novel, when Pip gets home from marsh, Ms Joe gets up, makes a grab at Tickler, and ram-paged out” (Dickens,7).
Here, Mrs. Joe is described as an aggressive, unapproachable figure. And Pip has to become closer to Joe instead of his older sister. Joe also appears as defenseless in front of Mrs. Joe. During Christmas, He can only venture into the kitchen and secretly cross his two forefingers, and exhibits them to Pip (21). The terms “venture” and “secretly” clearly indicate the difference of their positions within the family. Neither Joe nor Pip can ever please Mrs. Joe. Therefore, they are always like comrade-in-arms or fellow-sufferers, and ultimately, become intimate friends. The story would not be completed without Mrs. Joe, her bad-temper helps develop the friendship between Pip and Joe, which is even closer than Pip’s and Mrs. Joe’s blood ties, and directs the development of plot groundwork.
Secondly, Charles Dickens reflects the social reality of lower class people through Mrs. Joe. Dickens builds a common and rough woman through physical description. Pip describes, “Mrs. Joe is not a good-looking woman” and “she is tall and bony, and almost wore a course aprons” (6). Mrs. Joe never looks like a high-class people, who suppose to be elegant and beautiful. She works hard, even though works can never be done for the low-class people. Mrs. Joe is also not satisfied by being a blacksmith’s wife, and believes she can gain money and social status from the high-class people one day. While Pumblechook brings the news that Pip has arranged to play in Satis House, Mrs. Joe consents to the proposal without considering Pip’s idea (53). By decrypting her dictatorial behaviors, Dickens heightens Mrs. Joe as a lower social class people who look forward to raise her status. Through the description of Mrs. Joe’s aggressive and low-class figure, Charles Dickens develops the story more completely and reveals the social reality of low-class people.
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Bantam Classic, 2003, Print.