The novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is filled with memorable characters from all sorts of economic classes. Joe Gargery is a blacksmith and the brother-in-law of the novel's main character, Pip. Pip's life begins humbly, but due to some amazing circumstances, he acquires a fortune from a mysterious benefactor. Pip's young life changes from that of an apprentice blacksmith to a gentleman, one who can afford to idly spend his time (and money) in London's high society.
In the monologue below, Joe has just paid a brief visit to see Pip in London. However, he plans to return to the country because the city life and its social complications do not suit him. In his touching farewell speech, he shows a keen self-awareness and an understanding of society's expectations. Although this monologue is taken from the actual novel, there have been many stage adaptations of Great Expectations. The following speech is ideal for actors playing an age range between early 30s and late 50s.
JOE: Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, as I may say, and one man's a blacksmith, and one's a whitesmith, and one's a goldsmith, and one's a coppersmith. Diwisions among such must come, and must be met as they come. If there's been any fault at all to-day, it's mine. You and me is not two figures to be together in London; nor yet anywheres else but what is private, and beknown, and understood among friends. It ain't that I am proud, but that I want to be right, as you shall never see me no more in these clothes. I'm wrong in these clothes. I'm wrong out of the forge, the kitchen, or off th' meshes. You won't find half so much fault in me if you think of me in my forge dress, with my hammer in my hand, or even my pipe. You won't find half so much fault in me if, supposing as you should ever wish to see me, you come and put your head in at the forge window and see Joe the blacksmith, there, at the old anvil, in the old burnt apron, sticking to the old work. I'm awful dull, but I hope I've beat out something nigh the rights of this at last. And so GOD bless you, dear old Pip, old chap, GOD bless you!