When discussing the marshland with Joe, Jaggers uses “solitary" and “lonely" several times. However, several images presented by Jaggers contradict the idea of the marshland's isolated existence.

"Aha!" said the stranger, quickly, and cocking his eye at me. “The lonely church, right out on the marshes, with graves round it!"

"That's it," said Joe.

The stranger, with a comfortable kind of grunt over his pipe, put his legs up on the settle that he had to himself. He wore a flapping broad-brimmed traveller's hat, and under it a handkerchief tied over his head in the manner of a cap: so that he showed no hair. As he looked at the fire, I thought I saw a cunning expression, followed by a half-laugh, come into his face.

"I am not acquainted with this country, gentlemen, but it seems a solitary country towards the river."

"Most marshes is solitary," said Joe. [p. 58]

Wearing a “broad-brimmed travelller's hat" Jaggers's presence conflicts with the idea of the marshland's solitary and “unfrequented" nature. His knowledge of the location of the church also conflicts with his tourist image. Its “lonely" description should ensure that a simple passer through would not notice it unless they deliberately sought it out. Additionally, Jaggers's description of the “lonely church" seems to contradict the fact that it has many “graves round it" where the dead residents of the marshland forever accompany the little church.

Questions

1. Pip state's that Jaggers was “cocking his eye at [him]" in a way reminiscent of aiming a gun. What does the use of such violent language suggest about Jaggers's character and about Pip's emotional state at this time?

2. Ultimately which location proves more solitary and lonely for Pip, London or the marshland?

3. Bronte frequently described the countryside within Jane Eyre. Did she emphasize the isolated nature of the country or did she highlight its welcoming nature?

4. Jaggers's description of the marshland suggests that the area has few residents. How densely populated would the area have been in Pip's time?

5. What does it say about Joe's character that he finds the marshes solitary? Is he only commenting on the population density or is it a possible reference to his own feelings of isolation?


Victorian Web Overview Charles Dickens Great Expectations

Last modified 27 February 2008