There is not much I can say about Joe Gargery of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations or about Mr. George of Bleak House. The goodness and simplicity of these men makes them shine out like stars on a cold winter’s night. Only, these stars give warmth.
I will make only the conjecture that Dickens saw in these men, as so many of us do, an ideal of which he fell far short. Both these men were full of physical strength and action, of steadfast love and faithfulness, and of few words (words which would be nearer comical if not for the great hearts and loyalty that belied them).
In such men we all find our accusation, particularly those of us who have spent much time pursuing our own great expectations or aspirations, those of us who could hardly plead the loyalty and forethought displayed in these giants.
Dickens, by no means a simple man, captures in Joe and Mr. George the simplicity of love, and doing so, these men are made portraits not of simplicity but of depth and glory. Such portraits may bring tears of shame and gladness to smaller hearts, but perhaps if they do, Dickens’ sketches are not wholly wasted on us.