Great Expectations

by: Charles Dickens

Important Quotations Explained

1
My convict looked round him for the first time, and saw me . . . I looked at him eagerly when he looked at me, and slightly moved my hands and shook my head. I had been waiting for him to see me, that I might try to assure him of my innocence. It was not at all expressed to me that he even comprehended my intention, for he gave me a look that I did not understand, and it all passed in a moment. But if he had looked at me for an hour or for a day, I could not have remembered his face ever afterwards as having been more attentive.

This quote from Chapter 5 describes Pip’s brief reunion with Magwitch after the latter has been captured by the police. Pip, who is always concerned with other people’s impressions of his behavior, is anxious for Magwitch to know that he is innocent—that he is not responsible for turning Magwitch in to the police. But when Magwitch looks at Pip, he seems to experience feelings that have nothing to do with Pip’s innocence or guilt, a look that Pip “did not understand” but which is the most “attentive” look Pip has ever received. This is an important moment of foreshadowing in the book, our first impression that Pip’s kindness has moved Magwitch to strong feelings of loyalty and love. It also an important moment of character development, our first glimpse of something in Magwitch’s character beyond the menace and bluster of his early scenes in the book.