In the bildungsroman, we see Pip develop as a character that is innocent at the start and experienced at the end. The relationship between Pip and Joe plays a huge role in this. At the start of the novel, the relationship between Pip and Joe is close, supportive, and mutually dependent.
As Pip gets to know people of hierarchy, Pip starts to disown his Christian values, learned from Joe, and embraces class, status, and wealth.
In this extract, Dickens presents the deep reverence and affection we all have towards someone special in our lives. Pip explains how Joe is his “dear fellow” showing the equality between the two, which is no longer there when Pip moves to London.
The phrase “dear fellow” runs parallel to when Pip describes Joe and him to be “fellow sufferers” as Mrs. Joe dominates both of them. The phrase reflects how they both have a mutually dependent relationship as they both look out for each other. The noun “fellow” connotes equality, friendship, and bonding.
This highlights how Pip and Joe’s fraternal friendship and bonding and that Pip admires Joe and looks up to him whilst he is at the Forge. In the extract, Pip explains how he feared losing “Joe’s confidence” which reflects how it matters to Pip what Joe thinks of him, underlining that Joe is someone that the younger Pip values.
The relationship between Pip and Joe changes from a loving one to one that is marked by intolerance. This would be because of the change in social class. When Pip leaves for London, the gap between Pip and Joe increases physically and emotionally. At the beginning of the novel, Pip describes Joe as a “larger species of child”.
This quotation suggests that Pip views Joe, who is much older than him, as more of an equal and companion in comparison to a parental figure. Moreover, it indicates Joe’s warm-hearted nature; he is a less authoritative figure than Mrs. Gargery.
Pip always treated Joe as “no more than (his) equal”, from which we can infer that they both share the same amount of power. The repetition of the adjective “equal” shows the equality between Pip and Joe. This perhaps maybe because both of their social classes are the same.
However, when Pip goes to London and becomes a gentleman, the social class between the two increases. After Joe comes to meet Pip in London, in his parting speech, Joe uses a metaphor to educate Pip about social class.
Joe compares different social classes to different smiths, stating, “One man’s a blacksmith, and one’s a whitesmith and one’s a goldsmith, and one’s a coppersmith.
Divisions among such must come, and must be met as they come.” With this quote, Joe tells Pip that he does not blame him for the awkwardness of the meeting, but instead he links it to the natural divisions of life. The blacksmith connotes a metaphor of metalsmithing to determine these natural divisions: some are blacksmiths, like Joe, and some are goldsmiths, like Pip.
Joe arrives at a wise and resigned attitude towards pip’s change in social class that caused them to drifted apart, and he shows his essential goodness and loyalty by blaming the discussion not on Pip but on the unalterable nature of the human condition.
Dickens chose to place this speech at the conclusion of the chapter, which would have been more significant as the novel was initially published in serial format: this would have the reader reflecting on the question of social class and how it affects relationships like Pip and Joe.