"Perhaps, properly speaking, Dickens had no ideas on any subject; what he had was a vast sympathetic participation in the daily life of mankind; and what he saw of ancient institutions made him hate them, as needless sources of oppression, misery, selfishness, and rancour."" .
Rules. Guidelines. Laws. From the beginning of time, people have lived under the heavy thumb of expectations placed upon them by others. What to do and when to do it, what to say and when to say it-- somehow societies have come up with their own rulebooks for what is permissible and what is to be looked down upon, leaving each man to choose between his inner yearnings and the clarion call of the organized civilization. This problem faces John Wemmick in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. On the surface, Wemmick appears as a dedicated worker and an upstanding member of society who maintains a healthy domestic lifestyle. Upon closer inspection, we see that Wemmick plays host to two polar personalities: the hard working, upstanding worker in bustling London, and the amiable, carefree resident of Walworth. Through careful examination of Wemmick's character, Dickens prompts his reader to reflect upon the two sides of humanity as a whole.
In Victorian society, employees were expected to carry themselves with a degree of professionalism and excellence. Caring for others and becoming emotionally involved in work were seen as signs of weakness. Mr. Jaggers, Wemmick's employer and literary counterpart, appears completely eaten up by his work. He takes his courtroom attitude with him everywhere, to the point that others avoid conversation with him for fear of being cross-examined. Wemmick passes on this soame air of intimidation to Jagger's clients as he collects funds and "portable property."" However, this attitude is not truly characteristic of Wemmick. He says, "[The way I carry myself in] the office is one thing, private life is another.