Great Expectations – Theme Assignment

“If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.” This quote by Edmund Burke explains the complex topic of wealth and moral integrity. Wealth plays a big role in our lives and determines our social class.

With this comes the generalization that if you are of lower class, you will have low moral integrity and if you are of upper class, you will have high moral integrity. Rather, it is commonly the opposite. In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens develops the ironic theme that commoners of the lower class have high moral values as they are unaffected by pride and greed, and, therefore, are uncommon; conversely, those of the upper class have low moral values as they are commonly motivated by pride and greed. Through the characters of Joe, Bentley Drummle and Pip, we can see how their social class determines their moral integrity. “But I did mind you, Pip,” he returned, with tender simplicity. “When I offered to your sister to keep company, and to be asked in church at such times as she was willing and ready to come to the forge, I said to her, ‘And bring the poor little child. God bless the poor little child,’ I said to your sister, ‘there’s room for him at the forge!'” (pg.

53) Joe, a blacksmith, is Pip’s brother-in-law but more importantly, he develops to be Pip’s father figure as the novel progresses. He married Pip’s sister, Mrs. Joe, to be able to take care of both of them. As a commoner, you would expect that he would want some benefit from his marriage. But, in reality, Joe actually loses more than he gains.

He has to support two more people now, and he is constantly being abused by Mrs. Joe, whether the beatings be intended for himself or Pip. So, as we can see, there is no evident benefit Joe is getting from his marriage. Well, at least not from a reader’s perspective.

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Right off the bat, we can tell from this example what kind of person Joe is: a loving, selfless and…