Power and Dominance

Nathan Greenberg "12, English 60, Brown University, 2009

writer —>Charles Dickens —>Works —>Great expectations —>Leading Questions>

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When Pip first encounters Molly, she physical illustration stunshim. He does no yet acknowledge her as Estella"s mother, yet alreadyhe senses other “striking" around her.He likens she to the Weird sister in Macbeth, recalling that her facelooked as if it were “disturbed through fiery air" that a cauldron.Throughout the evening Pip has an obstacle taking his eyes off of Mollyand is shocked when Mr. Jaggers suddenly seizes she hand together shereaches across him to clear the table:

Her entrapped hand to be on the table, yet she had already put herother hand behind her waist. “Master," she said, in a short voice, withher eye attentively and also entreatingly addressed upon him. “Don"t."

"I"ll present you a wrist," recurring Mr. Jaggers, with an immovabledetermination to display it. “Molly, let them check out your wrist."

"Master," she again murmured. “Please!"

"Molly," stated Mr. Jaggers, not looking at her, but obstinately lookingat the opposite next of the room, “let them see both your wrists. Showthem. Come!"

He took his hand from hers, and also turned that wrist up on the table. Shebrought her various other hand indigenous behind her, and also held the 2 out side byside. The last wrist was much disfigured, — deep scarred and scarredacross and across. When she held her hands out she took her eyes fromMr. Jaggers, and turned castle watchfully on every among the rest of usin succession.

"There"s power here," claimed Mr. Jaggers, coolly tracing out the sinewswith his forefinger. “Very couple of men have actually the strength of wrist the thiswoman has."

This illustration occurs at the end of a long discussion around physicalstrength in i beg your pardon Pip and also his friends have actually fallen come “barring andspanning" your arms to present off their muscles. By illustration attentionto Molly"s outstanding strength, Mr. Jaggers accentuates the boys"relative weakness. His insurance claim that “very couple of men have the strength ofwrist" the Molly has could be viewed as an attempt to humble them.However, the demonstration go not only reveal Molly"s power; the alsoreveals her absence thereof. She begs to be released however Mr. Jaggersignores she pleas, “obstinately looking at the opposite side of theroom". Regardless of her physics power, Molly rectal a position of greatweakness. She is fully at the mercy of her master; as a servantand a woman she cannot refuse him. However, the revelation the shemay have actually committed murder suggests that she to be not always sosubmissive. Wemmick describes Molly together a “wild beast tamed". Bydemonstrating his prominence over this "wild beast", Mr. Jaggersasserts his very own strength. His cruelty toward Molly deserve to thus it is in seenas a kind of “barring and also spanning", a metaphorical flexing ofmuscles.


1. Molly"s pleas because that Mr. Jaggers to release her are similar tothe small girl"s pleas because that Anodos to stop poignant her sphere inPhantastes:

I put out both mine hands and laid organize of it. It began to sound asbefore. The sound promptly increased, it spins it thrived a low tempest ofharmony, and also the globe trembled, and also quivered, and also throbbed in between myhands. I had actually not the love to pull it away from the maiden, despite Iheld it in spite of her make the efforts to take it it indigenous me; yes, i shame tosay, in spite of her prayers, and, in ~ last, her tears. The music wenton growing in, intensity and complication that tones, and also the globevibrated and also heaved; till at last it burst in our hands, and a blackvapour damaged upwards from out of it; climate turned, together if blownsideways, and enveloped the maiden, hiding also the zero in itsblackness.

What function(s) carry out these scenes serve? Is the fact that themaiden is a young girl whereas Molly is a center aged womansignificant? Why? go the truth that Anodos is awkward by hisactions vice versa, Mr. Jaggers appears to have no remorse significant?Why?

2. To be women often convicted of killing at the moment inwhich great Expectations takes place? What about at the time in which Dickens was writing? How, if at all, to be women and men handle with in different ways by the England"s penal code?

3. Room there other instances in great Expectations that physicallystrong personalities in positions of weakness? What might good Expectations suggest about the relationship in between strength andpower?

4. The means in which Mr. Jaggers restrict Molly is storage of rape. Does that seem likely that Dickens intended this step to havesexual undercurrents? exactly how is rape generally depicted in Victorianliterature? Is it regularly veiled with symbolism?

5. Eventually, Pip discovers that Molly is Estella"s mother:

I looked again at those hands and also eyes of thehousekeeper, and thought that the inexplicable feeling that had come overme as soon as I critical walked — not alone — in the ruined garden, and also through thedeserted brewery. Ns thought exactly how the same feeling had come back when Isaw a face looking in ~ me, and also a hand waving come me indigenous a stage-coachwindow; and how it had actually come earlier again and had flashed about me likelightning, once I had actually passed in a carriage — not alone — v a suddenglare of irradiate in a dark street. Ns thought exactly how one link of associationhad assisted that to know in the theatre, and how together a link,wanting before, had actually been riveted for me now, once I had actually passed by achance swift from Estella"s name to the fingers with their knittingaction, and the attentive eyes.

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And also I felt absolutely certain that thiswoman was Estella"s mother.

What relationship, if any, exists between Molly"s hands together they aredescribed in this scene and also her “disfgured" wrists? walk Molly"sphysical appearance alter the means Pip views Estella?