Thursday, March 23, 2017
· A Bridge to Higher Studies: English should continue to occupy an important place in the curriculum of secondary schools so that at the end of the secondary stage the pupils will attain good working knowledge of English. The pupil learn English efficiency at secondary level it will not be difficult to catch higher studies.
· Starting with ABC: Many students discontinue studies after the secondary level and avail a job as means of livelihood if they learn English efficiently at the school level they will find it easy to secure a job foremost of the jobs or offices require peaking ability in English. So English occupies a good fortune in the school.
· English as a Career: English helps to build up career. Many take higher studies of English, build their career as English teacher or English lecturer or, other numerous jobs where knowledge of English will be required at every step.
· English at Help: At the secondary stage there are so many subjects in which there are enrichment by English. So for imploring extensive knowledge for these books it is the subject of English which will help them.
· Visiting Foreign University: In future many students may go abroad for higher studies where with help of English, it will be positive for them to speak, to write and to learn. So at the secondary level the foundation of English knowledge should be sound so that at the foreign countries there will be no difficulty for studies in English. English will help them to maintain contact with the out side world.
· A Help in National Integration:English also should be learnt for national integration. If English be learnt in sound way it will be easy for integration with the different people in the nation. As regard for the place of English in the secondary school curriculum, INDIAN EDUCATION COMMISSION (KOTHARI COMMISSION) (1964-66) recommends that at the secondary stage the student will study their languages. To non Hindi speaking ones these are (i) the mother language or the regional language. (ii) Hindi (iii) English. In Hindi speaking areas these will be (i) the mother tongue or the regional language (ii) English and (iii) a modern Indian language other than Hindi. The recommendation is justified and so in the opinion of the central advisory board of secondary education admits that a pupil should before completing his school education acquire knowledge of three language where by English occupy the place of 2nd language in the school curriculum.
· Modernity: The subject of English which acquaints us with fundamental ideas of modern civilization or modern science and even growing knowledge of all the advanced countries of the world.
Nowadays English has a special and predominant role in the communicative sphere of the world. It has also a special identity in the field of education.
A language is a medium of communication and interacting verbally in our day-to day life situation in family and society. But in India English is a foreign language. It is different from mother tongue. The teaching of English is highly desirable for a English teacher. Before starting his teaching, it requires for the teacher to fix up his aims and objectives. It makes him efficient.
(i) Language aspect: Words, sentences, pronunciation, spelling and grammar.
(ii) Literature aspect: Words, sentences, expressing ideas, feelings and experiences.
(i) Reading, (ii) Writing, (iii) Speaking and (iv) Listening.
· To develop the skill of speaking,
· To develop the skill of reading,
· To develop the skill of writing,
· To develop the skill of listening,
· To enable the students for the use of grammar correctly,
· To enable the students to analyze the element of language and establish the appropriate relationship among linguistic components.
· To acquire knowledge,
· To diagnose the weakness of speaking and writing English,
· To compare and illustrate linguistic components,
· To classify the elements of English language,
· To understand the meaning of prose, poetry, story and drama by reading.
In order to teach English correctly and properly English teacher must know the aims and objectives of teaching English.
This study investigates the Impact of Social Issues on Sri Lankan English Poetry. The poets usually compose poems on different themes, such as beauty, love, nature, morality, humanity, war and violence. Sri Lankan English poets also do the same in accordance with their personal, social, cultural, political and religious experience. In this study, much attention is paid to social issues, which had once prevailed in the country.
Anne Ranasinghe, Richard de Zoysa, Jean Arasanayagam, Kamala Wijeratne, LakdasaWickramasinghe, YasmineGoonaratne and Patrick Fernando are some of such prominent and outstanding Sri Lankan poets, who have perceived and experienced such social problems, which were prevalent during their life time. During the recent past, the Sri Lankans have experienced more violent and subversive activities, which were closely observed by the above poets. JVP insurrection in 1971, Black July in 1983, JVP insurrection in 1988/89 and brutal war between LTTE and Sri Lankan forces were some of the most tragic and evil incidents that occurred in Sri Lanka. They were so violent and inhuman that almost all the people of the country suffered in numerous ways. The worst effect of this tragic situation is that even today, some people hate JVP and LTTE, whereas some people hate state terrorism. These three elements created chaos, terror and horror every nook and corner of the country. Those, who are directly or indirectly responsible for this kind of bloodbaths and inhuman activities in the island can hardly, get rid of the curse of the people, who bitterly underwent this pathetic and terrified situation. They have witnessed this detrimental situation in the country, which terrified the whole island for a long time causing violence and terror everywhere. Some poets have perceived this violent atmosphere in an indifferent way, whereas some seem to have been biased and prejudiced. It is also apparent that there are valid reasons for them to be biased or unbiased. However, the majority of the Sri Lankan poets seem to have observed the above social issues in a realistic and justifiable way.
In general, violent and brutal activities in a country go down in the history. They can neither be forgotten nor deleted from the strong memory of the people, who suffered critically as a result of the evil conduct of the above people. Though these ugly incidents go down in the history of a country, it is much valuable for the poets to compose poems on these violent and inhuman themes, which will never vanish from the memory of the people. That is why it is emphasized that literature of a country is very significant and it always goes with the history of the country. The literate and intellectual people read Sri Lankan poems and come to be aware of the social problems; they had faced during the past.
The research problem found here is whether Sri Lankan poets have successfully identified these issues. For instance, when their poetry is closely read and investigated, the intellectual readers will think whether there were such brutal and violent issues prevailed in the country and they are directly or indirectly related to their poems. It is, therefore, necessary to explore the history of the country and collect information regarding the Sri Lanka poetry.
The objective of the present study is to observe whether the Sri Lankan poets have properly and accurately identified the social issues confronted by the country maintaining their independence and impartiality. Some poets seem to be biased and prejudiced in their observation. This is also another significant matter related to their poetry.
Collecting information from the relevant sources of Sri Lankan poetry in English from both print and electronic media was the main methodology. Both Sri Lankan poems in English and comments on them by various critics were deeply studied regarding the impact of social problems on Sri Lankan English Poetry. Relevant articles, which appeared in newspapers, books and web sites, were used as secondary data while interviews were conducted with those, who have really experienced and observed these social problems. Thus, both primary and secondary data were utilized in the present study.
The research was extremely confined only to the Sri Lankan poems based on social issues, which were composed in English. When the close attention is paid to the Sri Lankan poetry, it is apparent that many poems have been composed by various poets on multifarious themes. However, this study is extremely limited only to the poems, which are based on significant crucial social issues alone, which were prevalent all over the country disturbing the human beings and the entire atmosphere.
As indicated above, the whole study is entirely dependent on literature related to the social issues, which occurred in Sri Lanka during the recent past. Professor, D.C.R.A. Goonetilleke (1998) and Professor RajiwaWijesinha (1988) have commented on the Sri Lankan poems in their anthologies with some examples. As Ashley Halpe points out, Sri Lankan writers in English make their own particular contribution to Sri Lankan reality and to the exploration of human potentiality that is central to art of any importance. Their writings represented different situations that occurred during the eras they write. Sri Lankan writers in English explore human potentiality through exposé of characters. These characters have distinctive characteristics that make them different from the characters of other literatures. Through their writing, they make their audience aware of Sri Lankan history including the eras of colonialism and post colonialism and social issues like internal riots and ethnic conflicts of the country. Among those writers the poets like LakdasaWikkramasinha, YasmineGooneratne and Patrick Fernando can be taken as Sri Lankan writers, who addressed different perspective views of human beings as well as social issues.
In LakdasaWikkramasinha’s poetry, he deals with native problems of Sri Lanka. He is a distinctive character among good local poets. As Suresh Canagarajah indicates LakdasaWikkramasinha as a better example of a Sri Lankan poet, who succeeds in reconciling the discourses in his own terms. His stand point is clearly in the rural, folk, native cultural and literary traditions. In fact in being a poet of no mean stature in one of the indigenous languages (i.e., Sinhala) he is unique among Sri Lanka Lankan English poets in his literary bilinguality. Besides, he is a relatively committed poet with a fairly clear and consistent socio-political stand point. [Canagarajah, 1995]
As a poet, he is essentially native. His use of language is essentially and outstanding colored by local idioms. For example, the opening lines of the second stanza of the From the life of the Folk Poet, Ysinno,
‘He made his way to the Walauwa at Iddamalgoda
and to the Menike said ‘how poor he was.’
Those native words emphasize the controlling local interpretations of the poem. The most important fact is that this line shows something unusual in British English, but common and economical in the Sri Lankan Standard English. By using such contrast, he has managed to build up a simple and natural language that makes easy for Sri Lankans to understand. Through this poem, LakdasaWikkramasinha criticizes the adverse consequences of feudalism.
‘So she said, wait for the yala
Harvest and take the straw.
Ysinno said, O the rains are coming near
my woman fretting, her kid will get wet’
Suresh Canagarajah depicts Wikkramasinha as a politically committed and socially conscious poet in Sri Lankan English poetry.
YasmineGooneratne is an outstanding female poet of Sri Lanka, who belongs to the Western educated minority. During the time she wrote, the social patterns of Sri Lanka have changed from her childhood. At that time, mother tongue oriented culture and education emerged in the country and that affected the anglicized minority of the country. [Raheem and Fernando, 1978] So, it is clearly evident the fact that this situation has an effect on Gooneratne’s poetry.
YasmineGooneratne’sPeace Game shows the class distinction. There, we see the upper class people’s attitude towards the working class people. And also, she presents the snobbish and contemptuous qualities of the upper class people. Her Peace Game is a mildly suggestive satire on war. She satirizes the inequality of the sides playing the peace game, or the inequality of the sides fighting for war. Here, the poet presents class distinction and there we see two side ‘Odds’ and ‘Evens’. ‘Evens’ belong to the upper class people, who were ‘swell’, ‘upright’, ‘regular guys’ and poet represents them. ‘Odds’ in the poem represent the lower class people, who were ‘little, patched and scrawny’ were not given a voice.
“We Evens were a well-fed lot
and tough, so that the little patched
and scrawny Odds would never dare.”
On more universal term the meaning of the poem seems to be that wars are not fought on equal terms. It is one party, the more powerful that chooses the ground and makes the rules and plays the game, not for war but for peace.
Patrick Fernando is another famous Sri Lankan poet, whose writings contributed to display Sri Lankan reality and to the exploration of human potentiality. He wrote with a certain confidence. We see a vivid imagination working through his poems. That has a peculiar originality of its own. In point of actual achievement, Patrick Fernando is one of the most talented poets belonging to the period after 1956. He is not exclusively Sri Lankan or Western. His poems can be read by anyone anywhere as they have a universal appeal. Suresh Canagarajah introduces Patrick Fernando’s poetry represent the dominant ethos of Sri Lankan English poetry. [Canagarajah, 1995] He is a native writer and deals with themes typically native in the West coast of Sri Lanka.
Patrick Fernando in his poem Fisherman Mourned by His Wife draws a realistic picture of the hardships of their lives. Most of his imageries are drawn from the sea.
“…not yet tanned…you in old boat brown”
The line shows how fisherman is conditioned by the life he leads. Next, the narrator analyses the nature of their marriage. It is a union arranged by their elders. She recalls the first days of their marriage and its consummation while his chastity and inexperience in sex are revealed. Their love blossomed forth after marriage. The relationship portrayed reflects the typical native ethos. And also, both fisherman and his wife’s characters represent folk culture of Sri Lanka. Moreover, Suresh Canagarajah depicts his ideas about their relationship as follows;
“Fernando succeeds to a great extent in capturing the specificity of the relationship of the fisherman and his wife as a conservative arranged marriage. However, he goes beyond simple stereotypes to show how the relationship blossoms into deep understanding- and love. He also evokes the psychological complexities in the emotions and attitudes of the partners, which depict the relationship as humanity alive.” [Canagarajah, 1995]
Prof. Ashley Halpe further says that Patrick Fernando highlights a different theme in his poem Life and Death of a Hawk. He speaks about power, strength and other talents people have and the way they are abused by some people in the society. Ultimately, such powerful people are killed as animals. The poet compares such treacherous and inhuman people to a hawk, which is also detrimental and dangerous in their community.
Though there can be seen slight differences among the above mentioned Sri Lankan writers in English all of them have taken a certain effort to explore human potentiality. With direct and indirect messages they portray characters. The characters that they portray and social, economic and political issues that they brought out are more familiar to the Sri Lankan audience rather than Western literature
Prof. WimalDissanayake has the paradox that those, who cared nothing when Jayewardene presided over the burning of the Jaffna Public Library and the pogrom of 1983, the deprivation of Mrs. Bandaranaike’s Civic Rights and the Referendum of 1982 that put off elections for six years, the nullification through hasty legislation of Appeal Court judgments and the intimidation of Supreme Court judges, now appear as champions of the minorities and democracy and the rule of law. Of course, there is a new generation involved, and we cannot really blame them for their ignorance, in a society, which remembers nothing, except grudges and prejudices. But, their paymasters are those who relished authoritarianism when it seemed to promote their interests, and that is why we should not be surprised that they flirted with authoritarianism again. Bizarrely, they were also prepared, in promoting this, to ally themselves with the JVP, which had been hunted down with such relish twenty years earlier.
Between the ethnic Tamils in the north and the Sinhala people in the south, while ultra-left groups like JVP were leading uprisings against the state. Matters came to a head between 1987 and 1989, when the JVP stirred up a new wave of violence and began to terrorize the government.
In retaliation, the authorities began to crack down on JVP activists and anybody suspected of having an affiliation to the group. Disappearances, murders and mutilation of bodies Sri Lanka in the 1970s and 1980s was in crisis. A civil war was raging became widespread. One commentator in the play noted how newspaper headlines routinely used the term ‘tyre pyre’ to describe piled-up bodies of people set on fire along with rubber tyres.
It was in this environment that de Zoysa lived and worked. A well-known reporter and TV broadcaster, he belonged to the English-speaking elite of Colombo and was active in the city’s arts scene. He was fond of theatre and used it as a medium to put forward his own anxieties about the state and the condition of his country.
Contributors to the documentary remember a man, who was educated, cultured and eager to connect with the Sri Lankan masses. His kidnapping and murder were all the more distressing because this was the first time an upper-middle class journalist from Colombo had been killed in such circumstances.
Anne Ranasinghe born of a German-speaking Jewish family in Essen, left Germany for England in January 1939. Her parents and most of her family circle died in Nazi concentration camps. Her education, begun in Cologne, was completed at Parkstone Girls' Grammar School in Britain.
Ranasinghe trained as a nurse in London, studied journalism, and speaks five languages. Settling in Colombo following her marriage in 1949 to a Sri Lankan physician, she began writing poetry in 1968 and published her first poems in 1971 . Her experience of the Nazi holocaust helped her to write of Sri Lanka's 1971 insurrection in powerful poems that have imparted a new strength to Sri Lankan poetry, especially that written by women.
Writing articles about Hitler's Germany for a Sri Lankan newspaper, Ranasinghe began a journey back into her past, which culminated in a return to Essen in 1983 that has profoundly influenced her subsequent writing. She has won several awards and prizes, including the Sri Lanka Arts Council Prize for Poetry (1985). Her publications, all printed in Colombo, include Poems ( 1971 ), With Words We Write Our Lives Past Present Future ( 1972 ), Plead Mercy ( 1976 ), Love, Sex and Parenthood ( 1977 ), Of Charred- Wood Midnight-Fear ( 1983 ), Against Eternity and Darkness ( 1985 ), and Not Even Shadows ( 1989 ). Her work has been translated into four languages, and is included in Y. Gooneratne (ed.), Poems From India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Singapore (Hong Kong, 1979).
Findings and Discussion
When the literature related to the present study is closely examined, it is clear that some Sri Lankan poets have composed their poetry, with the experience they underwent during that particular period. Prof. Ashley Halpe and Prof. WimalDissanayake have comprehensively discussed this matter through their keen observation. Both have referred to violent activities, which occurred during the recent past. Mainly, LTTE, JVP and state terrorism were behind all these tragic events. Even the interviews with those, who observed these violent activities with their own eyes, substantiate the fact that what Sri Lankan poets convey is accurate. Jean Arasanayagam, who composed Ruined Gopuram reveals how the kovil was attacked by militants. She highlights the brutal behavior of the militants, who caused massive damage to the kovil. This is related to the political situation then. She further says that even god is helpless before such inhuman acts:
“Unknown goddess, guardian
Of the freshwater spring
In her poem, Nallurshe emphasizes this fact much effectively:
“… the gods are blinded by the rain of bullets.”
This is regarding their attack on the NallurKovil.
Remembering Nallur 1984, Political prisoner, 1958,’71,’77,’81,’83,In the month of July, Refugees-old man – old woman, the dark civilization are the other poems Jean Arasanayagam has composed, They are all related to social issues, specially war and violence.
Prof. WimalDissanayake in his newspaper article as discussed earlier, concentrates much on Richad de Zoysa and the way he was brutally assassinated by the government forces during the JVP insurrection. This indicates that the media personnel did not have any freedom to express their respective and independent attitudes or opinions regarding the social problems the country had been undergoing. His poem, Animal crackers is highly critical of the political situation of the country during 1980s and 1990s. Through the symbols of animals such as elephants, tigers and lions, he observes the weaknesses of the human beings. Elephant represents the government while the lion and tiger represent Sinhala community and LTTE militants respectively. Any way, he needs peace and justice. He wanted to reveal the truth, but ultimately, he was abducted and brutally murdered. Prof. WimalDissanayake has realistically elaborated it in his article.
As Prof. Halpe says, Anne Ranasinghe is another key poetic figure in Sri Lanka, who perceives the social problems prevalent in the island though she is alien to Sri Lanka. She, too, highlights much on war and its violent consequences. Plead mercy, On the beach, At what dark point? Fear grows like a cactus, Vivere in pace and July, 1983 are some of her masterpieces, which are closely associated with war and violence in Sri Lanka, which developed into controversial and much blood stained issues in the country. For instance, her poem, On the beach speaks about a puppy, which is brutally tortured and killed by three inhuman and treacherous boys. While the puppy is tortured, the people, who are enjoying swimming in the sea, ignore this tragic incident. But, the poet feels it very much. However, she fails to get involved in this incident as she is a foreigner. This is really a social problem, which resulted in the uprising of the young people of the country during the Sirimavo Bandaranaike regime in 1971. Three boys represent some government forces, who brutally burnt and killed some youth, who were involved in the JVP campaign to topple the then government. When interviews were conducted with the people, who observed these tragic and brutal incidents with their own eyes, it is apparent what Anne Ranasinghe admits is accurate.
Kamala Wijeratne’s poem, A Soldier’s Wife Weeps is another good example for highlighting the social issues, which existed in the country during war. She refers to the matter how a poor soldier was killed in the battle field and his dead body came home in a sealed coffin. Many such traumatic incidents occurred in the island during war in North and East. Thousands of such tragic events virtually took place in Sri Lanka. This is only one example regarding the evil consequences of war and violence. On seen a white flag across a by road, A mother laments, Farewell and White sareeare some of the poems Kamala Wijeratne has composed regarding social issues. Even the ordinary people of rural villages are aware that many such untimely and cruel deaths were caused by war, which wants to quench the blood thirst of some inhuman elements of the country. Though it seems to be over presently, the people, who were confronted with such tragedies, are still living in great fear.
Prof. Ashley Halpe points out that through the poem; From the Life of the Folk poet YsinnoLakdasaWikkramasinha dramatizes the feudal relationship between the folk poet, Ysinno and the mistress Menike of the house. We see the rudeness and egoism of Menike and poorness, loyalty and faithfulness of Ysinno.
But, at the same time the poem ends by showing the generosity of Menike. The poem is like a reminder of past, where we remember the social inequalities that occurred due to feudalism.
Prof. Ashley Halpe also admits that YasmineGooneratne’sPeace Game shows the class distinction. There, we see the upper class people’s attitude towards the working class people. And also, she presents the snobbish and contemptuous qualities of the upper class people. This poem is directly related to the JVP insurrection, which occurred in 1971 killing at least 20,000 people. The majority of that number was young people of the country.
Patrick Fernando in his poem Fisherman Mourned by His Wife deals with the theme of love and marriage between a young fisherman and his wife. The fisherman is dead and the wife in her grief analyses the various stages of their relationship. Through images the poet draws a realistic picture of the hardships of their lives. This is a poem composed on the reality of the fishing community in Sri Lanka. As Prof. Ashley Halpe observes, it is clear how much these poor and innocent people suffer silently before the unpleasant challenges they face every day. Patrick Fernando has highlighted this social issue with great sympathy and compassion towards the fishing folk.
Patrick Fernando expresses a different theme in his poem Life and Death of a Hawk. It is the enigmatic nature of the highly elevated life and the pathetic death of the hawk that form the subject of the poem. Patrick Fernando shows his own bafflement at the enigmatic nature of the great men ending in meanness. The poet uses the image of a hawk that often can be seen in the Sri Lankan sky. According to the poet hawk is a very powerful, strong and cruel animal. It dominates the whole sky. However, the truth is that one day all such inhuman elements have to be confronted with the evil consequences of their cruel activates. No one can easily escape from the sins they have committed. Thus, the theme of the poem is universal as it can be applied to any society. According to Prof. Ashley Halpe, the whole poem carries the theme of however majesty, however powerful this is the common end of all living creatures. The poem is a symbolic of destruction of things beautiful and splendid by violent and incongruous forces.
It is now obvious that the present study has substantiated the fact that there is a great link between prominent social issues occurred in Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan poetry. As discussed earlier, many Sri Lankan poets like Jean Arasanayagam, Richard de Zoysa, Patrick Fernando, LakdasaWickramasinghe and Kamala Wijeratne seemed to have observed these social issues very carefully and capable of revealing the reality of such issues. Great literary scholars, Prof. WimalDissanayake and Prof. Ashley Halpe have also investigated this matter in detail in their respective literary works as pointed earlier. Accordingly, it is obvious that the Sri Lankan poets mentioned above are much more sensitive to the social issues, which are closely associated with the citizens of the country. In other words, they feel the pulse of the poor and innocent people, who are harassed and tortured by the evil and selfish elements of the country.
The story opens with the narrator, , who introduces himself and describes an image of himself as a boy, standing alone and crying in a churchyard near some marshes. Young Pip is staring at the gravestones of his parents, who died soon after his birth. This tiny, shivering bundle of a boy is suddenly terrified by the voice of large, bedraggled man who threatens to cut Pip's throat if he doesn't stop crying.
The man, dressed in a prison uniform with a great iron shackle around his leg, grabs the boy and shakes him upside down, emptying his pockets. The man devours a piece of bread which falls from the boy, then barks questions at him. Pip tells him that yes, he is an orphan and that he lives with his sister, , the wife of a blacksmith, about a mile from the church. The man tells Pip that if he wants to live, he'll go down to his house and bring him back some food and a file for the shackle on his leg. Pip agrees to meet him early the next morning and the man walks back into the marshes.
Dickens introduces us immediately to Pip, who serves as both the young protagonist of and the story's narrator looking back on his own story as an adult. With this two-level approach, Dickens leads the reader through young Pip's life with the immediacy and surprise of a first person narration while at the same time guiding with an omnipotent narrator who knows how it will all turn out. The adult narrator Pip will foreshadow future events throughout the story by using signs and symbols.
Dickens uses this duality to great effect in the first chapter, where we are personally introduced to Pip as if we were in a pleasant conversation with him: "I give Pirrip as my father's family name..." Immediately after this, however, we are thrown into the point of view of a terrified young child being mauled by an escaped convict.
The narrator Pip then presents an interesting, and prophetic, relationship between the boy and the bullying man. At first, the relationship appears to be based solely on power and fear. The man yells at the boy only to get what he wants, a file and some food, and the boy only responds for fear of his life. And yet, after they part, the young Pip keeps looking back at the man as he walks alone into the marshes. The image of the man holding his arms around him, alone on the horizon save a pole associated with the death of criminals, is strikingly familiar to the initial image of young Pip, holding himself in the cold, alone in the churchyard with the stones of his dead parents. For a moment, then, the relationship seems to warm. They share a common loneliness and a common marginalization from society, the orphan and the escaped convict. Even while he is afraid, Pip instinctively displays a sympathetic reaction.
This initial meeting, between a small boy and a convict, will develop into the central relationship in the book. It is the relationship which will cause Pip's great expectations for himself to rise and fall.
Pip runs home to his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, and his adoptive father, Joe Gargery. Mrs. Joe is a loud, angry, nagging woman who constantly reminds Pip and her husband Joe of the difficulties she has gone through to raise Pip and take care of the house. Pip finds solace from these rages in Joe, who is more his equal than a paternal figure, and they are united under a common oppression.
During the dinner, Pip nervously steals a piece of bread. Early the next morning, Pip steals food and a pork pie from the pantry shelf and a file from Joe's forge and runs back to the marshes.
The reader's sympathy once again is directed at Pip who not only lost his parents but is being raised by a raging, bitter woman. A common criticism inherent in many of Dickens' novels is the abuse of children in society at large. Although he paints Mrs. Joe in a rather humorous light at times, the reader is still keenly aware of the fear in which this poor child grew up.
Character names in Dickens' works are often codes which reflect a characteristic of the person or their station. Mrs. Joe's name can be decoded to reflect humorous irony on Dicken's part. Although the wife of Joe has taken both his names in the classic patriarchal manner (usually connoting that the wife is the property of the man) the Gragery household is anything but patriarchal. In fact, her husband is treated as little more than a child and Pip and he are the submissive ones.
The next morning, Pip sneaks out of the house and back to the marshes. He finds a man, wet and cold and dressed like a convict, but he turns out to be a different convict from the man who had threatened him the night before. This man has a badly bruised face and wears a broad-brimmed hat. He runs away from Pip without speaking to him. Pip finally finds his man and gives him the food. The man reacts with anger when Pip tells him about the other convict. Pip leaves him filing at his shackle and returns home.
The second meeting of Pip and the convict is much more civil and sympathetic than the first. Pip even puts away his fear to say, "I am glad you enjoy it," as the convict eats. Since he stole the food and file, Pip is now the convict's partner in crime and feels closer to the man.
Great Expectations is sometimes called, among other things, a mystery or suspense novel, and in this chapter we see elements of that genre. Dickens uses secrets as a way of heightening suspense throughout the novel. Someone is always hiding something from someone else. Sometimes these secrets are clear to the reader and makes the reader a partner in crime with the characters, as we are with Pip last as he sneaks around his house, terrified of getting caught, stealing food. Other times the reader is left out of the secret but we are given the impression that it is an important thing that we need to find out, as in the case of the two convicts. We know that there is some connection between the two that is important to the story but we are given very few clues to help us.
Pip returns home to find Mrs. Joe preparing the house for Christmas dinner. She has invited , the church clerk, Mr. Hubble the wheelwright and Mrs. Hubble and who was a "well to do corn-chandler" who "drove his own chaise-cart." The discussion over dinner was how fortunate Pip should feel about being raised "by hand" by Mrs. Joe and how much trouble she has gone through in that endeavor, though Pip's opinion was never requested. Mr. Pumblechook nearly chokes on some brandy after the meal and Pip realizes that he poured tar water in the brandy bottle when he stole some for the convict. Mrs. Joe becomes too busy in the kitchen to afford a full investigation, but then announces that she is going to present the pork pie. Sure that he is going to get caught, Pip jumps up from the table and runs to the door, only to meet face to face with a group of soldiers who appear to be there to arrest him.
The suspense grows in this chapter as the reader and Pip fearfully await the discovery by Mrs. Joe of the things which are missing from the kitchen. The apprehension is kept light, however, with a foolish dialogue between the adults over how much trouble Pip is to raise for Mrs. Joe. Mr. Pumblechook is presented as a loud mouth idiot, full of himself. The only sympathetic character is Joe, who continues to make gestures of support toward Pip. Dicken's little social commentary here is clear: It is often the dim witted and poor (Joe) who act with more grace and charity than wealthy loud mouths (Mr. Pumblechook and Mr. Wopsle) who claim that they do.
The soldiers do not want to arrest Pip but they do need a pair of handcuffs fixed by Joe. They are invited in, Mr. Pumblechook offers up Mrs. Joe's sherry and port, and Joe gets to work on the handcuffs in the forge. They are, in fact, hunting two convicts who were seen recently in the marshes. After Joe fixes the handcuffs, he, Pip, and Mr. Wopsle are allowed to follow the soldiers into the marshes. They soon find the two convicts wrestling each other in the mud. The one with the hat accuses the other, Pip's convict, of trying to kill him, but the other replies that he would have done it if he really wanted to. Instead, he had been the one who had called for the soldiers and was willing to sacrifice himself just so the one with the hat would get caught again.
The bring the two back to a boathouse where Pip's convict, eyeing Pip, admits to stealing Mrs. Joe's pork pie by himself, thus getting Pip off the hook.
Joe and Pip watch as the two convicts are brought back to the prison ship.
The reader is presented with the question of why the two convcts are fightng each other. Pip's convict goes so far as to say that he deliberately got himself caught, just so he could make sure the man with the hat would go back to prison. What hatred did this man have that would make him go back to prison just to see another suffer as well?
The relationship between the convict and Pip continues to grow as well, even though they do not speak and the convict hardly looks at him. The convict obviously wants to protect the boy and, suspecting Pip may be threatened, takes the blame for stealing the pork pie. The two are, once again, united in secrecy.
Joe, Pip, and Mr. Wopsle walk back home. Pop decides not to tell Joe the truth about his file and the pork pie -- he is afraid of losing his respect. When they return, the topic of discussion is the question of how the convict managed to get into the locked house. Through his bombastic overbearance, Mr. Pumblechook's argument wins: the convict crawled down the chimney. Mrs. Joe sends Pip to bed.
Pip's fear that Joe would "think worse of me than I was" if Pip told him about the file and pork pie is a fear that Pip will revisit throughout his young life. Joe is the only friend in the world for Pip, he is his entire society. Pip fears to lose this companionship by telling the truth. In the future, Pip will struggle with telling the truth because of the fear that society will think less of him.
Pip describes a little of his education with Mr. Wopsle's great aunt, a "ridiculous old lady" who had started a small school in her cottage. The education, as Pip describes it, is less than satisfactory, but Pip does learn some basics from , an orphan girl who works for Mrs. Wopsle.
While doing his homework one night, Pip discovers that Joe is illiterate. Joe explains that he never stayed in school long because his father, a drunk and physically abusive to him and his mother, kept him out. Joe goes on to explain to Pip that, because of his father, Joe stays humble to Mrs. Joe. "I'm dead afeerd of going wrong in the way of not doing what's right by a woman," he says. He let's Mrs. Joe "Ram-page" over him because he sees how difficult it is to be a woman, remembering his mother, and he wants to do the right thing as a man. Pip has new understanding and respect for Joe.
Mrs. Joe comes home, quite excited, and proclaims that Pip is going to "play" for , "a rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal house." Uncle Pumblechook suggested Pip to Miss Havisham when she asked if he knew any small boys. Pip was to go tomorrow and spend the evening at Uncle Pumblechook's in town.
Chapter Seven and Chapter Eight mark a key turning point in the novel, separating Pip's young childhood in the humble company of Joe from the beginnings of greater expectations in the company of higher society.
The chapter presents a relationship between Joe and Pip which is growing in love and respect. Joe is at the bottom of the social hierarchy, and, particularly, at the bottom of his household's hierarchy but Pip finds new respect for his position. "I had a new sensation of feeling conscious that I was looking up to Joe in my heart." The image is almost ideal: the young Pip and Joe sitting next to the fire, Pip admiring him and teaching him the alphabet.
Dickens contrasts this humble setting with the opportunity presented at the end of the chapter by the noisy entrance and rather insolent announcement by Mrs. Joe. She introduces the first of Pip's "great expectations" in the form of the job given to Pip "to play" for Miss Havisham: "...this boy's fortune may be made by his going to Miss Havisham's." Although little is known about the wealthy woman, and less is known exactly how Pip is supposed to "play," the opportunity is one where Pip will be in the company of a higher social and economic class of people.
Pip spends the evening at Mr. Pumblechook's and is brought to Miss Havisham's after a meager breakfast. They are met at the gate by a young woman, , "who was very pretty and seemed very proud." Estella lets Pip in, but sends Mr. Pumblechook on his way. She leads him through a dark house by candle and leaves him outside a door. He knocks and is let in. There he meets Miss Havisham, a willowy, yellowed woman dressed in an old wedding gown. She calls for Estella and the two play cards, despite Estella's objection that Pip was just a "common labouring-boy." "Well," says Miss Havisham, "you can break his heart." Estella insults Pip's coarse hands and his thick boots as they play.
Smarting from the insults, Pip later cries as he eats lunch in the great house's yard. He explores the yard and the garden, always seeing Estella in the distance walking ahead of him. Finally, she lets him out of the yard and he walks the four miles home, feeling low.
Dickens uses strong imagery to describe Miss Havisham's house ("The Manor House" or the "Satis House") as barren of feelings or even life, even before we meet the bitter Miss Havisham and the rude Estella: "The cold wind seemed to blow colder there, than outside the gate..." Again we have a strange mystery: Why is this woman always in the dark, and dressed in a wedding gown? Who is the young and pretty Estella and what is she doing in such a morbid place?
Pip's first taste of "higher society" is a bitter one, and it leaves him ashamed and embarrassed rather than justifiably angry. Pip is, in fact, just a toy for both Miss Havisham, who wants him to "play," and Estella, who treats him roughly while at the same time flirts. Pip, torn between being insulted and his attraction to Estella, opts to feel ashamed of his upbringing -- so much so that he "wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up." His new found respect and love for Joe was being spoiled by his embarrassment of being brought up in a lower class family.
Pip is forced to talk about his day to Mrs. Joe and Mr. Pumblechook. Pip lies in a fantastical matter, making up stories about dogs being fed veal and Miss Havisham lounging on a velvet couch. He lies, partly in spite, but also because he is sure that the two would not understand the situation at the Satis House even if he described it in detail..
Later, Pip tells Joe the truth, and also confesses that he is embarrassed about being a "commoner" because of his attraction to Estella.
Joe reassures him that he is not common, he is uncommon small and an uncommon scholar. Referring to Pip's lies, he adds, "If you can't get to be oncommon through going straight, you'll never get to do it through going crooked."
Joe's analysis, though phrased in what Pip would call "common" language, is accurate: Pip is trying to become "uncommon" by lying about his experiences. Pip made up lies about the Satis House with the intention of glorifying it in front of the eager Mr. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe, both of whom eat it up. While Pip is naively honest in admitting to Joe that he wants to become uncommon, he is intelligent enough to know that he can become uncommon by being dishonest, or, as Joe would have it, "crooked."
One of the main themes of the book is spelled out in this chapter, specifically, the desire to rise above one's social station. Dickens, writing this book toward the end of his life, is speaking directly of his own youthful desires and those of his father as well. As the story of Pip unfolds and we witness the different ways in which Pip tries to climb the social ladder -- by making up fantastical stories in this case -- it will be interesting to listen to the running commentary made by the narrator, the older Pip, who, like Dickens himself, is looking back on this theme and reflecting on how it affected his happiness later on in life.
Pip states plainly that he wants to be uncommon and so, taking to heart Joe's advice that "you must be a common scholar afore you can be a oncommon one," he asks Biddy at the small school to help him get educated. Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's school is little more than a play school and Pip understands it will be hard to concentrate on some actual learning, but Biddy agrees and gives Pip some books to start with.
On the way home, Pip goes into a pub to pick up Joe. He finds Joe sitting with a stranger, a man with one eye pulled closed and a worn hat on his head. The man asks Joe all kinds of personal questions, some about Pip's relation to him, the whole time staring at Pip. At one point, the man stirs his drink with Joe's file -- the file Pip stole to give to the convict! As Joe and Pip depart, the stranger hands Pip a coin wrapped in paper.
When they get home, Pip realizes that the paper is actually a two pound note. Thinking it was a mistake (though Pip knows somehow that it wasn't) Joe runs back to the pub to give it back but the man is gone.
Pip, excited at the beginning of the chapter by the prospect of educating himself to become uncommon, is reminded of his common, and somewhat illegitimate, past by the stranger in the pub. As he goes to sleep, he is bothered by the fact that it is uncommon to be "on secret terms of conspiracy with convicts."
The man clearly knew something about Pip assisting the convict and wanted Pip to know that he did. How he knows remains a mystery, but Pip's immediate fear is how his past will "haunt" him as he tries to climb out of his common background.