Monday, June 27, 2016

An Important Lesson from Joe Gargery On How to Progress in Life

In Great Expectations, young Pip's world is suddenly flipped upside down upon meeting the beautiful, unattainable Estella at Miss Havisham's house. As the two children sit before Miss Havisham playing at cards, Pip realizes for the first time some of the disparities between the wealthy and the working classes and that--unfortunately, in his mind--he's on the wrong end of that spectrum.
"'He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy!' said Estella with disdain, before our first game was out. 'And what coarse hands he has! And what thick boots!'
I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before; but I began to consider them a very indifferent pair. Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it."
When Pip returns home that evening and is being questioned about his time at Miss Havisham's house, he ends up telling some pretty outrageous stories about what he saw and did. As no one else had ever been inside of Miss Havisham's house, no one knew better than to believe his silly claims.

Later on when he is alone with Joe, Pip confesses that he didn't tell the truth earlier and begins to lament his sorry, common life. In the course of their conversation, Joe makes some pretty poignant remarks on how to raise oneself out of that state of commonness that is now plaguing Pip.
 "'There's one thing you may be sure of, Pip,' said Joe, after some rumination, 'namely, that lies is lies. Howsever they come, they didn't ought to come, and they come from the father of lies, and work round to the same. Don't you tell no more of 'em, Pip. That ain't the way to get out of being common, old chap.'"
 "'Well, Pip,' said Joe, 'be it so or be it son't, you must be a common scholar afore you can be a oncommon one, I should hope! The king upon his throne, with his crown upon his [head], can't sit and write his acts of Parliament in print, without having begun, when he were a unpromoted Prince, with the alphabet.---Ah!' added Joe, with a shake of the head that was full of meaning, 'and begun at A too, and worked his way to Z.'"
"If you can't get to be oncommon through going straight, you'll never get to do it through going crooked."
Simple, common Joe Gargery who was just a blacksmith with no formal education understood that the only true way to succeed and move forward in life is through hard work and uncompromising integrity. The advice he gave to Pip in Great Expectations (written by Charles Dickens in 1861) was sound and wise, and we would do well to follow it today in 2016.

What wise person in your life always points you in the right direction even when you're too focused on yourself to see it?

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