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Raised by hand

Posted by Reneed on May 18, 2007

In Reply to: Raised by hand posted by Smokey Stover on May 17, 2007

This is Pip's older sister's phrase. She's an oppressive, unaffectionate, self-righteous woman given to congratulating herself for having taken in her younger brother after the deaths of the their parents. Her use of the phrase is intentionally off-kilter in its implication that there's some other, easier way to raise a child. You do things "by hand" when you don't do them by machine -- for example, sewing by hand versus using a sewing machine. She's alluding to all the work and trouble that she's allegedly gone to in raising Pip; the phrase might also be taken to imply that she's beaten Pip with the idea of sparing the rod, spoiling the child. That's not explicit, however. Cruelty to children in Dickens -- and there's a lot of it -- generally takes the form of witholding food and affection.

: : I am currently reading "Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens. In the first part of the book it is frequently mentioned that Pip (the main character who is a child) was "raised by hand". What does the phrase "by hand" mean?

: It's been a while since I read this work, but Pip was an orphan, from what age I'm not sure. Normally being hand-raised would imply (for a mammal like Pip) being bottle-fed. I don't know when bottle-feeding started in England, but the first citation of the word in the OED is from ca. 1865. "Great Expectations" was published serially in 1860-61. I'm guessing that bottle-feeding was already practiced, and that this is the reason for his remark. Absent his mother, he could have been wet-nursed by someone else. But would that count as raised by hand? Improbable, I think. Or I could be wrong.
: SS