page 1 of 3
In the morning, Pip trips over a shadowy man crouching on his staircase. He runs to fetch the watchman, but when they return the man is gone. Pip turns his attention to the convict, who gives his name as Abel Magwitch. To keep the servants from learning the truth, Pip decides to call Magwitch “Uncle Provis,” an alias Magwitch made up for himself on the ship from Australia to England. Pip arranges a disguise and calls on Jaggers to confirm Magwitch’s story. Magwitch tramps around the apartment, embarrassing Pip, “his” gentleman, with his bad table manners and rough speech.
After five days of enduring his guest, Pip is forced to confront his problem head-on when Herbert returns home. Magwitch leaves, and Herbert and Pip discuss the situation, agreeing that Pip should no longer use Magwitch’s money. They plan for Pip to take Magwitch abroad, where he will be safe from the police, before parting ways with him.
The next morning, Magwitch tells the young men his story. He was an orphaned child and lived a life of crime out of necessity. His earliest memory is of stealing turnips to feed himself. As a young man, he met a gentleman criminal named Compeyson and fell under his power. Compeyson had already driven another accomplice, Arthur, into alcoholism and madness. Arthur, Magwitch says, was driven to despair by the memory of a wealthy woman he and Compeyson had once victimized. Magwitch remembers a woman from his own past and becomes distraught, but he does not tell Herbert and Pip about her. He continues, saying that when he and Compeyson were caught, Compeyson turned on him, using his gentleman’s manners to obtain a light sentence at the trial. Magwitch wanted revenge, and Compeyson was the man Pip saw him struggling with that night on the marsh.
At this point, Herbert passes Pip a note that tangles the situation even further. The note reveals that Arthur was Miss Havisham’s half brother; Compeyson was the man who stood her up on their wedding day.
Ashamed that his rise to social prominence is owed to such a coarse, lowborn man, Pip feels that he must leave Estella forever. After an unpleasant encounter with Drummle at the inn, he travels to Satis House to see Miss Havisham and Estella one final time.
Miss Havisham admits that she knowingly allowed him to believe she was his benefactor, and she agrees to help Herbert now that Pip can no longer use his own fortune. Pip finally tells Estella he loves her, but she coldly replies that she never deceived him into thinking she shared his feelings. She announces that she has decided to marry Drummle. Surprisingly, Miss Havisham seems to pity Pip.