At the end of chapter 16 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the author states:

After that day, a day rarely passed without her drawing the hammer on her slate, and without Orlick's slouching in and standing doggedly before her, as if he knew no more than I did what to make of it.

I looked up the definition of doggedly, and it says: "having or showing tenacity and grim persistence." In the sentence, however, it seems that the character Orlick seems confused, which makes the word doggedly seem more like dogmatically.

Why was doggedly used here?

  • 1
    It's persistence that is meant here, no doubt.
    – Kris
    Jun 26, 2014 at 6:48
  • One can be persistent and confused at the same time, no? Perhaps that explains the popularity of the Rubik's cube. Jun 26, 2014 at 8:13
  • The Rubik's Cube isn't confusing to me, though.
    – Jason Chen
    Jun 27, 2014 at 5:48

1 Answer 1


Orlick's presentation of himself is the consequence of the persistent habit of Pip's mute and disabled sister of having Orlick brought before her. It seems clear that Orlick's doggedness (his 'grim persistence') is forced on him by virtue of the fact that Pip's sister repeatedly summons him before her without explaining the reason.

To write 'standing dogmatically before her' instead would imply that Orlick was attempting to assert something to Pip's sister, when there is no evidence that he has any kind of message to impart; after all, he is not there voluntarily, but because he has been more or less coerced into attendance.

I therefore find nothing inconsistent or incongruous in Dickens's use of 'doggedly' in this context.


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