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16 votes
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What does "Some people do the same by their religion" mean?

The phrase "do the same" refers to what Mrs. Joe is doing with her cleanliness: making it more uncomfortable, although it should be theoretically better, than dirt. This is the same as how &...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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15 votes
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What does "...they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets..." mean?

Dickens was inspired to write this scene by a visit to St James’ Church in Cooling, Kent, where he saw these stone sarcophagi in the graveyard: (Photo by Hywel Williams, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.) ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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12 votes
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What does, "‘Much of that!’ said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. ‘I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!'" mean?

The word “flat” is used here in the sense flat n. C.5.b. A tract of low-lying marshy land; a swamp. Oxford English Dictionary. If you weren’t familiar with this sense of the word, you might guess it ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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11 votes
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Why does Mr. Pumblechook call Mrs. Joe "mum"?

“Mum” is a dialect spelling of “ma’am”, a shortened form of “madam” that was “formerly the ordinary respectful form of address to a woman” (OED). Here are a couple of examples, in both cases a servant ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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9 votes
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Why does Wemmick bring a fishing-rod on his "walk" with Pip?

To disguise the point of the expedition. Wemmick does not want anybody to know the real reason for the walk. By carrying a fishing-rod, he intends to keep anyone from even suspecting that he is on his ...
verbose's user avatar
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8 votes
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What does, "The period of exaggerated reaction consequent on all public wrongdoing..." mean?

A fuller quotation sets the context better: At that time jails were much neglected, and the period of exaggerated reaction consequent on all public wrongdoing—and which is always its heaviest and ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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8 votes
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In Great Expectations, why were thieves happy when Mr. Jaggers spoke?

"dread" - being frightened that something worrying would happen "rapture" - ecstasy - but can also mean "a state of being carried away by overwhelming emotion" From my ...
Juye C's user avatar
  • 151
8 votes

What does "raw" mean in this context from Great Expectations?

In the context of this sentence, "raw" refers to the weather. The following definition from Wiktionary applies here: Unpleasantly cold or damp. So Pip is saying that the weather that ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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7 votes
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What does "a sort of Hercules in strength and weakness" mean?

“A sort of Hercules in strength” is easy. The mythical Hercules was renowned for his strength, for example in the eleventh labour where (in one version) he holds up the sky, in place of Atlas, while ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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7 votes
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Does "Great Expectations" refer to the sport of cricket, in the scene of Joe meeting Pip in London?

Yes, it refers to cricket, with the wicket-keeper being the fielder behind the wicket, who has dedicated equipment and is frequently called on to catch the ball. The catcher in baseball is similar. It'...
Adam Burke's user avatar
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7 votes

Are the two death masks Jack Dawkins and Fagin?

Each of Charles Dickens’ novels stands alone: they do not form a series or shared “universe”. So we should not expect to find references or allusions from one of his novels to the others. The equation ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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6 votes

Why did Wemmick want to keep his marriage secret in "Great Expectations"?

Wemmick wanted to keep his marriage a secret because he had created two distinct personas for himself: one as a hard-nosed clerk at his job in London and the other as a loving husband and caretaker of ...
Veronica's user avatar
6 votes

In Great Expectations, who is the man at the pub in Chapter Ten?

Is there any evidence in the book (or comments by Dickens) that points to who this man is? Aside from the fact which B.W. pointed out in the text you quoted I knew that he knew my convict the text ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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6 votes

What does, "‘Much of that!’ said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. ‘I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!'" mean?

That speech is a response to Pip's "good night". ‘Goo-good night, sir,’ I faltered. ‘Much of that!’ said he, glancing about him over the cold wet flat. ‘I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!’ ...
Ergwun's user avatar
  • 169
5 votes
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In Great Expectations, who is the man at the pub in Chapter Ten?

The stranger is an associate of Magwitch. I have no particular evidence to support this, beyond commonly accepted interpretations of the text, which are based on a series of circumstancial ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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5 votes

What does "in coarse gray" and "iron" mean here?

Dickens is describing Pip's first encounter with a convict, Magwitch. in a coarse gray This is shorthand for "coarse gray cloth". It is uncommon, but not unfamiliar, in English to describe ...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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5 votes
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Meaning of "put in all the salt and pepper"

In addition to the OED entry for salt, there is this entry for ‘pepper and salt’ With reference to the pungency or biting quality of pepper: intensity (of feeling), spirit, vigour; ‘spice’. To ...
Spagirl's user avatar
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4 votes

In Great Expectations, who is the man at the pub in Chapter Ten?

The question itself is a fascinating observation, but the questions answers itself. When Pip sees the file carried by the mysterious man, Pip as the narrator states: "...and I knew that he knew ...
B.W.'s user avatar
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3 votes
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Considering the similarities between H.G. Wells’ Kipps and Charles Dickens’ Pip can we draw a conclusion regarding parallels between the works?

You use the tag yet you avoid the term intertextuality in your writing. There is little in literature and in the practise of criticism or analysis that is "immutable" and amounts to being &...
henryflower's user avatar
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3 votes

What is the significance of "biting the side of his forefinger" in Great Expectations?

You ask : ‘Is this just a peculiar quirk of Mr. Jaggers' character, or does the gesture have some meaning?’ The answer I contend is it is a quirk of character, but in addition has specific ...
schweppz's user avatar
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3 votes

What is the significance of "biting the side of his forefinger" in Great Expectations?

I see there being two options, but I don't think there is some underlying meaning such as biting the thumb or thumbing one's nose. It is possible that Mr. Jaggers has some form of Dermatophagia which ...
Skooba's user avatar
  • 4,170
2 votes

Why did Mr Jaggers have death masks of two of his former clients, Great Expectations Chapter 24?

Death masks are post mortem artifacts, as you point out. The masks are kept in Mr. Jaggers workplace (as explained by Wemmick), on account of the Fame owing to the notoriety of the clients and the ...
schweppz's user avatar
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2 votes
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Where did Charles Dickens come up with the name "Magwitch"?

It's probably impossible to know for certain now what Dickens's thought process was when he came up with the name Magwitch - we can't exactly ask him, and "interviews with authors" were much ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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2 votes
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How to analyse a literary passage or extract?

Methods and Techniques In order to analyze this passage from Great Expectations, we should use a few different methods and techniques. We can begin by looking closely at the language used in each part ...
Adzetto's user avatar
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1 vote
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What does "no shadow of another parting" mean?

The ambiguity noted in the question was discussed in detail by Douglass Thomson, who identified the shadow as that of Estella’s mother, Molly. Most readers have assumed that the word “another” is an ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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