What was the purpose of ending the book from the point of view of Tobias instead of Jack Maggs?

Carey leaves a gap in time between his final chapters, switching from scenes of death to a scene of Tobias cursing Maggs and the speeding time to show Maggs dying of old age surrounded by his children. I think Carey purposely ended the novel from the point of view of Tobias because it serves the novels purpose. Carey, a fellow Australian, must have felt kinship with the Magwitch he encountered in Great Expectation and felt his story was unfairly portrayed. He wanted to make it clear in his reimagining of the novel that any literature written about Maggs could unfairly portray him. He makes this clear when he shows Tobias, overcome with grief, begins warping his memory of Maggs, imagining him as “Jack Maggs, the murderer… who now grew in the flames… flowering, threatening, poisoning, Tobias saw him hop like the devil. Saw him limp, as if his fiery limbs still carried the weight of convict iron. He saw his head transmogrify until it was bald, tattooed with deep wrinkles that broke apart and floated glowing out into the room” (355). This transformation of Magg’s image shows how Tobias now sees Maggs, and this warped grief makes him into an unreliable author. Carey indicates this when his notes, “It was now, on the seventh of May, in the darkest night of his life, that Jack Maggs began to take the form the world would later know. This Jack Maggs was, of course, a fiction, and so it may not matter that Tobias never witnessed the final act of the real convict’s search: never observed Henry Phipps raise that pistol” (355). Tobias will write his book following a warped narrative that didn’t actually exist. He will portray an inaccurate series of events and make Maggs out to be a murderer. This is Carey’s warning to the reader that they shouldn’t believe what that read about Maggs, and perhaps this stems from him questioning the accuracy of the Magwitch he read about in Great Expectations.

Moral Failings

In Chapters 14 and 15 Pip’s changes upon returning to his sister and Joe reveal why Great Expectations is considered a bildungsroman. Pip’s education in London is on hold and he has become Joe’s apprentice once again. Pip was once satisfied with this apprenticeship, but his time in London and with Miss Havisham and Estella changed him. Pip knows this change is for the worse, telling us, “It is the most miserable thing to feel ashamed of home. There may be black ingratitude in the thing, I can testify. Home had never been a very pleasant place to me… But, Joe had sanctified it, and I had believe in it… Now, it was all coarse and common, and I would not have had Miss Havisham and Estella see it on any account” (107). Poe’s time away from home might have improved his intellect, but his morals have fared very poorly at Satis House and in London. He has never had a healthy relationship with his sister, Mrs. Joe. She was cruel to him throughout his childhood and is prone to fits of rage. Having said that, the fact remains that she took in an orphaned Pip, setting him up with clothes and food and a place to live. Joe has been nothing but kind to him, and he is lucky to have a bed and an apprenticeship to return to when he wears out his welcome in London, but Pip recoils at the perceived shabbiness of his home. His reaction to his sister’s death is also equal parts ad and cruel. He walks in to find her, “lying without sense or movement on the bare boards where she had been knocked down by a tremendous blow on the back of the head” and instead of reeling sadness or pity he is simply glad she is, “destined never to be on the Rampage again, while she was wife of Joe” (119). Pip’s reaction is disappointing because he has already lost so many members of his family, and he has had plenty of time away from his childhood home to mature and distance himself from his sister’s cruelty. He says he wants to become a gentleman, but he means it only in the sense that he wants to increase in intellect and money while doing nothing to improve himself morally. Under these “gentlemanly” ambitions of his, the family that raised him and his childhood home have been belittled in his mind and left derelict.

An orphan seeking love

Great Expectations begins with a somber scene of our orphan Pip reading the inscriptions on his parent’s tombstones. Pip tells the reader that, “The shape of the letters on my father’s grave, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair” (3). Dickensl has managed to lace the child’s words with an odd undercurrent of humor. It also is indicative of Pip’s familiarity with death. As an orphan in the mid 18th century Pip has certainly been exposed to many harsh realities in his struggles to survive. He has also witnessed the passing of all five of his younger siblings as they struggled to survive on the streets without parents. In the same paragraph Pip reveals, “five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat little row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine- who gave up trying to get a living exceedingly early in that universal struggle” (3). This is the beginning of a narrative of isolation that will follow Pip throughout the novel. He is an orphan in the truest sense of the word with not even a sibling to keep him company. Pip once again inserts a thread of humor into his commentary when he expounds that his brothers, “had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence” (3). This is Pip’s way of calling them lazy. This seems a little harsh until you take into account how Pip must have fought to remain afloat on the streets. Pip’s understanding of what it is like to be hungry, alone, and afraid is what drives him to help the convict. He makes it clear that he is terrified of the man yet he returns not once but twice to feed him. As calloused as Pip seems in his reflections about his family he still risks his own hide to save a complete stranger, and he still takes the time to go a sit beside his family and imagine what his parents looked like. His words hold a kind of depersonalization, which is at odds with his actions and most likely a coping system to keep him from following the same path as his little brothers. However, Pip reveals his true nature in the way he overcomes his fear to help a man in need. He might seem callous and uncaring but underneath that he is nothing but a lonely orphan seeking acceptance and love.

Coco and Antoinette: A Parallel

It is clear to me that Wide Sargasso Sea was written by Jean Rhys to make a clear statement about the unfair representation of the Caribbean and its peoples in Jane Eyre. This statement is decidedly anti imperialism and highlights the subtly racial stereotyping found in Jane Eyre. This is evident in the way she highlights the social struggles left over from competing British and French colonization and slave emancipations, and in the way Antoinette’s descent into madness and ultimate death is hastened by her removal from her home and intentional isolation from society by her husband. Antoinette’s death is sad but easily predictable by the trail of breadcrumbs Rhys leaves throughout the text to foreshadow it. We are a story about Coco’s change after Mason’s arrival, namely that, “After Mr Mason clipped his wings he grew very bad tempered, and though he would sit quietly on my mother’s shoulder, he darted at everyone who came near her and pecked their feet” (25). It is important to note that Coco’s wings were clipped by her mother’s husband and that Rhys notes it is bad luck to see a parrot die. This serves as forshadowing for Antoinettes fiery suicide at the end of the novel. Like Coco with his clipped wings pecking at feet, Antoinette’s loss of freedom as she is locked away in the third-storey room only further enraged her, pushing her to act out in violence “…once to secrete a knife with which she stabbed her brother, and twice to possess herself of the key to her cell, and issue therefrom in the night-time” (129). These violent outbursts do not gain her the freedom she seeks and continue to escalate to the point of Antoinette lighting her prison on fire and throwing herself from the roof. We are given an image of Antoinette straddling the roof “waving her arms, above the battlements, and shouting… She was a big woman, and had long black hair: I could see it streaming against the flames as she stood… she yelled, and gave a spring, and the next minute she layed smashed on the pavement” (131). This scene brought to mind her mother’s beloved pet parrot Coco’s final swan song off the deck of her family home in Dominica where Antoinette tells us, “I opened my eyes, everybody was looking up and pointing at Coco on the glacis railings with his feathers alight. He made an effort to fly down but his clipped wings failed him and he fell screeching. He was all on fire… I heard someone say something about bad luck and remembered that it was very unlucky to kill a parrot, or even to see a parrot die” (25). Like Coco, Antoinette had he wings clipped by her husband, who’s racist tendencies colored him against her from the start and led to him locking her away from the world in his home. Anointte seeking death over spending another second imprisoned by the white man she was convinced to marry strengthens Rhy’s stand against imperialism. It makes a statement that, like Antoinette, the Creoles would rather see death then be forced under the thumb of the white men that enslaved them.

Are Catherine and Heathcliff cut from the same cloth?

Are Catherine and Heathcliff cut from the same cloth? Catherine herself seems to believe so, even confessing, “Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same…” yet when I initially confronted this question I leaned more towards no. How could two children with such different lots in life turn out the same? As such, I originally interpreted them are irrevocably different people. However, upon further examination I believe Catherine is correct, and it instead became hard to point out a way in which they are different. These similarities are especially evident in the similar paths their lives take, although they follow slightly different timelines. Both characters spend their childhoods together running wild on the moors and experience a period of isolation from their childhood home- Catherine first when her injured ankle leaves her at the mercy of the Lintons for a few weeks and then Heathcliff when he mysteriously vacates Wuthering Heights for a period of 3 years. Both characters are changed by their experiences away from the moors are come back cultured and cruel. This is evident when Catherine strikes the members of her household. First she strikes Nelly not once but twice, leaving her marked with, “…a decided purple witness to refute her…” and again Hareton received the same treatment when “…she seized his shoulders, and shook him till the poor child waxed livid.” Even Edgar received a boxed ear for moving to protect Hareton. This scene speak to the change she underwent in the Linton’s household, the same change that motivates her to cast aside Heathcliff in favor of a more socially acceptable match with Edgar. Heathcliff is similarly changed when he returns from his leave of absence at the manor. He is wealthy, aloof, and sporting a new agenda: revenge on those who have wronged him. Because they were so changed by their experiences away from their childhood home, both Catherine and Heathcliff end up marrying for money and power. These loveless marriages end badly for the women involved as both Catherine and Isabelle die young.
A wild childhood, period of absence, and power hungry marriage. Double personalities and cruel dispositions. After further reflection these characters have too many similarities to count. At first, this made me believe they are indeed meant to be together, but when I took the time to actually sit down and contemplate what their relationship would have looked like, it was obvious to me that they would have made each other miserable. They simply shared a childish infatuation, which, if Catherine were made of stronger stuff, could have faded with time. But, as is the way with Victorian novels, the main love interest wasted away and died young.