Mrs Joe and Mr Joe Relationship

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a Victorian text that challenges traditional gender stereotypes. Through the relationship and interaction of Mr and Mrs Joe, Dickens has fundamentally questioned the overall role of a male and a female and how this characterizes Joe alongside his actions. By analyzing the historical context of Joe in the growing up in an oppressive and physically abusive household, readers are provided insight to the selfless traits that he possesses and why he allows himself to be subordinate to Mrs Joe. When the gender roles of his marriage are reversed and positions him to act as the masculine man of the house, the traditional gender stereotypes are both reinforced and questioned to give overall meaning to the creative novel.

Throughout the Victorian era, it was socially accepted and recognized that men should establish their dominance with physical and brutal force. Dickens fundamentally questions this ideology through the inverted relationship of Mrs. Joe and Joe Gargery. This reversal of dominance is established in the beginning when Pip reminisces that “Mrs. Joe, throwing the door wide open, and finding an obstruction behind it,.. applied Tickler… she concluded by throwing me- I often served as a connubial missile…”. From the beginning Mrs. Joe is depicted as the dominant figure that provides the discipline, in a non-maternal manner, alongside her trusty companion ‘Tickler’, who we find out is a leather whip. Explain why Dickens uses violence to reverse role. Not only does Mrs. Joe direct her anger towards Pip, Joe is a regular boxing bag to the strikes of Mrs. Joe as she “threw a candlestick at Joe, burst into a loud sobbing, got out the dustpan—which was always a very bad sign- put on her course apron, and began cleaning up to a terrible extent”. The editor of the Hull Packet remarked that wife beating was “being accepted as the habit of the nation” and a man’s duty was to ‘correct’ his wife or partner. Welsh medieval law...
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