Power and also Dominance

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

authors —>Charles Dickens —>Works —>Great expectation —>Leading Questions>

You are watching: Who is molly in great expectations

When Pip an initial encounters Molly, her physical figure stunshim. He does no yet acknowledge her together Estella"s mother, however alreadyhe senses miscellaneous “striking" around her.He likens she to the Weird sister in Macbeth, recalling that her facelooked together if it to be “disturbed through fiery air" the a cauldron.Throughout the night Pip has difficulty taking his eyes off of Mollyand is shocked as soon as Mr. Jaggers all of sudden seizes her hand as shereaches across him to clear the table:

Her entrapped hand was on the table, however she had already put herother hand behind she waist. “Master," she said, in a low voice, withher eyes attentively and entreatingly addressed upon him. “Don"t."

"I"ll show you a wrist," repetitive Mr. Jaggers, through an immovabledetermination to display it. “Molly, permit them watch your wrist."

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

"Molly," claimed Mr. Jaggers, no looking in ~ her, but obstinately lookingat the opposite side of the room, “let them check out both your wrists. Showthem. Come!"

He took his hand from hers, and also turned that wrist increase on the table. Shebrought her other hand native behind her, and also held the two out side byside. The critical wrist was much disfigured, — deep scarred and also scarredacross and across. When she hosted her hands out she took she eyes fromMr. Jaggers, and turned castle watchfully on every among the remainder of usin succession.

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

This illustration occurs at the end of a lengthy discussion about physicalstrength in i m sorry Pip and also his friends have fallen come “barring andspanning" your arms to display off your muscles. By drawing attentionto Molly"s superior strength, Mr. Jaggers accentuates the boys"relative weakness. His case that “very couple of men have actually the strength ofwrist" that Molly has can be watched as an effort to humble them.However, the demonstration does not just reveal Molly"s power; it alsoreveals her lack thereof. She begs to it is in released however Mr. Jaggersignores she pleas, “obstinately looking in ~ the opposite side of theroom". In spite of her physical power, Molly rectal a place of greatweakness. She is fully at the mercy of her master; together a servantand a woman she cannot refuse him. However, the revelation the shemay have committed murder argues that she to be not always sosubmissive. Wemmick describes Molly together a “wild beast tamed". Bydemonstrating his dominance over this "wild beast", Mr. Jaggersasserts his own strength. His cruelty toward Molly have the right to thus it is in seenas a type of “barring and also spanning", a metaphorical flexing ofmuscles.


1. Molly"s pleas for Mr. Jaggers to relax her are similar tothe little girl"s pleas because that Anodos come stop touching her round inPhantastes:

I put out both mine hands and also laid hold of it. It began to sound asbefore. The sound quickly increased, it rotates it flourished a low tempest ofharmony, and also the globe trembled, and quivered, and also throbbed between myhands. I had actually not the love to traction it far from the maiden, though Iheld it in spite of her make the efforts to take it indigenous me; yes, ns shame tosay, despite her prayers, and, at last, she tears. The music wenton farming in, intensity and complication that tones, and the globevibrated and heaved; till at last it burst in our hands, and also a blackvapour damaged upwards from out of it; then turned, as if blownsideways, and also enveloped the maiden, hiding also the zero in itsblackness.

What function(s) do these scene serve? Is the reality that themaiden is a young girl vice versa, Molly is a center aged womansignificant? Why? does the truth that Anodos is embarrassing by hisactions whereas Mr. Jaggers appears to have no remorse significant?Why?

2. Were women frequently convicted of murder at the time inwhich great Expectations take away place? What about at the moment in i m sorry Dickens to be writing? How, if in ~ all, were women and men dealt with in different way by the England"s penal code?

3. Space there other instances in great Expectations that physicallystrong characters in positions of weakness? What might an excellent Expectations suggest about the relationship between strength andpower?

4. The means in i m sorry Mr. Jaggers restrict Molly is reminiscent of rape. Does it seem most likely that Dickens intended this step to havesexual undercurrents? exactly how is rape frequently depicted in Victorianliterature? Is it frequently veiled through symbolism?

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

I looked again at those hands and also eyes of thehousekeeper, and also thought the the inexplicable feeling that had come overme as soon as I last walked — no alone — in the damaged garden, and also through thedeserted brewery. I thought exactly how the very same feeling had come back when Isaw a face looking in ~ me, and a hand waving to me native a stage-coachwindow; and how it had come earlier again and had flashed about me likelightning, once I had actually passed in a carriage — no alone — v a suddenglare of light in a dark street. I thought how one attach of associationhad aided that to know in the theatre, and also how together a link,wanting before, had actually been riveted because that me now, as soon as I had passed through achance swift native Estella"s surname to the fingers with their knittingaction, and also the attentive eyes.

See more: Nick Nolte Looks Like Gary Busey, Gary Busey: I Passed Away After Brain Surgery

And I feel absolutely details that thiswoman to be Estella"s mother.

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