!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-strict.dtd"> Streamline Training & Documentation: "Ever the best of friends"

Friday, November 14, 2008

"Ever the best of friends"

I've finished Great Expectations and am reflecting on what Dickens is doing in his novel. I'll mention just one of Dickens' themes because it's particularly important to me — the sterling value of loyalty.

"One night I was sitting in the chimney-corner with my slate, expending great efforts on a letter to Joe."
(Pip and Joe Gargery)
Illustration by Felix O. C. Darley (c. 1861)

Source: www.victorianweb.org

Joe, Pip's foster father, is a paragon of loyalty. Joe is in no way hampered in looking out for Pip's best interests by illiteracy and a humble social position. He remains actively devoted to doing whatever he can to help Pip, even in the face of Pip's heedlessness after he moves to London and is living off the funds provided by the anonymous benefactor who has promised that "great expectations" lie ahead.

As was the quote in yesterday's post, the quote below comes from Chapter 18, in which Pip and his household learn that he has "great expectations":

Joe laid his hand upon my shoulder with the touch of a woman. I have often thought him since, like the steam-hammer, that can crush a man or pat an egg-shell, in his combination of strength with gentleness. "Pip is that hearty welcome," said Joe, "to go free with his services, to honour and fortun', as no words can tell him. But if you think as Money can make compensation to me for the loss of the little child — what come to the forge — and ever the best of friends! ——"

O dear good Joe, whom I was so ready to leave and so unthankful to, I see you again, with your muscular blacksmith's arm before your eyes, and your broad chest heaving, and your voice dying away. O dear good faithful tender Joe, I feel the loving tremble of your hand upon my arm, as solemnly this day as if it had been the rustle of an angel's wing!