Chapter 23 (Volume 2, Chapter 4) (Instalment 15):

More about the Pocket Family / Mrs. Pocket stands upon her Dignity

Synopsis of Chapter 23 (Volume 2, Chapter 4) (Instalment 15)

Mr. Pocket arrives and Pip is introduced to Drummle and Startop, his fellow lodgers. Pip meets Mrs. Coiler, an unpleasant snob who laments Mr. Pocket's reduced circumstances while taking advantage of his hospitality. Mrs. Pocket and Drummle spend dinner talking about their aristocratic pretensions, and the meal is interrupted by the fact that the cook has ‘mislaid' the meat and throughout the remainder of the evening Pip continues to observe and be surprised and dismayed by the disorganized Pocket household.

Commentary on Chapter 23 (Volume 2, Chapter 4) (Instalment 15)

Mrs. Pocket was the only daughter of a quite accidental deceased Knight She clings to some very modest social pretensions, largely based on her fantasies of what might have happened to her father.

she had grown up highly ornamental, but perfectly helpless and useless Here it is possible to hear the voice of the adult Pip making fun of her social pretensions.

Mr. Pocket … roof himself in with a meter The Lord Chancellor, the highest law officer in England, sits in the House of Lords on a cushion filled with sheep's wool. Mitres are the hats worn by bishops, who preside over a diocese of the Church of England.

Mrs. Pocket was in general … because he had never got one Once again the satire on social ambition is very direct.

Mr. Pocket had been educated at Harrow and Cambridge Harrow is one of England's oldest public schools (founded 1572) and Cambridge one of the two oldest universities (the other isOxford). He has been given an education in accordance with his social class.

he had read with divers who had lacked opportunities or neglected them Divers means 'other varied people'. Mr. Pocket is a ‘crammer', a teacher who works with young men (often rich but of modest intellectual attainments) to fill gaps in their education.

She had a serpentine way of coming close at me … which was altogether snaky and fork-tongued Mrs Coiler's name and behaviour recall the serpent who deceived Eve in the Garden of Eden See Genesis 3:1-7

This practical authority confused me very much, by saying I had the arm of a blacksmith Although Herbert is aware of Pip's background, Pip does not want people like Drummle and Startop to know

‘Am I, grand papa's grand-daughter, to be nothing in the house?' Mrs. Pocket's sense of social superiority is ludicrous.

Investigating Chapter 23 (Volume 2, Chapter 4) (Instalment 15)
  • Look carefully at the tone of this chapter, and at the references to such figures as the Lord Chancellor and the Archbishop of Canterbury
    • Compare the narrator's tone and subject matter with that of Chapter 19
  • Whose ‘voice' can you hear in Chapter 23?
  • Look for evidence to show the connection between Mrs. Coiler's name and her nature
  • Re-read the chapter and write an appreciation of the characters of Mr. and Mrs. Pocket as they presented here
    • In what ways do think their portrayals contribute to Dickens' theme of the nature of gentility?
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