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Great Expectations

by: Charles Dickens

Chapters 57–59

Summary: Chapter 57

After Magwitch’s death, Pip falls into a feverish illness. He is also arrested for debt and nearly carted away to prison; he is spared only because of his extreme ill health. He experiences wild hallucinations, reliving scenes with Orlick and Miss Havisham and continually seeing Joe’s face. But the last is not a hallucination: Joe has really come, and he nurses Pip through his illness.

As Pip recovers, Joe tells him the news from home: Miss Havisham has died, wisely distributing her fortune among the Pockets. After failing to kill Pip, Orlick robbed Pumblechook, and he since has been caught and put in jail. And Joe has news about himself: Biddy has helped him learn how to read and write.

Pip and Joe go on a Sunday outing, just as they used to do when Pip was a boy. But when Pip tries to tell Joe the story of Magwitch, Joe refuses to listen, not wanting to revisit painful memories. Despite Pip’s renewed affection, living in London makes Joe increasingly unhappy, and one morning Pip finds him gone. Before leaving, he does Pip one last good turn, paying off all of Pip’s debts. Pip rushes home to reconcile with Joe and decides to marry Biddy when he gets there.

Summary: Chapter 58

When Pip arrives at his childhood home, he finds Satis House pulled apart in preparation for an auction. Pumblechook tracks him down at his hotel and treats him condescendingly, but Pip rudely takes his leave and goes to find Biddy and Joe. Biddy’s schoolhouse is empty, as is Joe’s smithy. When Pip finds them, he is shocked to discover that they have been married. Despite his disappointed expectation of marriage to Biddy, he expresses happiness for them and decides to take the job with Herbert.

Summary: Chapter 59

Eleven years later, Pip returns to England. He says he has learned to work hard and is content with the modest living he makes in the mercantile firm. He goes to visit Joe and Biddy, and tries to convince Biddy that he has resigned himself to being a bachelor.

Pip then goes to Satis House and finds that it is no longer standing. In a silvery mist, Pip walks through the overgrown, ruined garden and thinks of Estella. He has heard that she was unhappy with Drummle but that Drummle has recently died. As the moon rises, Pip finds Estella wandering through the old garden. They discuss the past fondly; as the mists rise, they leave the garden hand in hand, Pip believes, never to part again.