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Great Expectations

Charles Dickens

Chapters 27–35

Chapters 20–26

Chapters 36–37

Summary: Chapter 27

Joe comes to visit Pip in London. Because Pip worries that Joe will disapprove of his opulent lifestyle and that Drummle will look down on him because of Joe, Joe’s visit is strained and awkward. He tries to tell Pip the news from home: Wopsle, for instance, has become an actor. But Pip acts annoyed with him until Joe mentions that Estella has returned to Satis House and that she wishes to see Pip. Pip suddenly feels more kindly toward Joe, but the blacksmith leaves before Pip can improve his behavior.

“Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, as I may say, and one man’s a blacksmith, and one’s a whitesmith, and one’s a goldsmith, and one’s a coppersmith. Diwisions among such must come. . . .”

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Summary: Chapter 28

Hoping to see Estella and to apologize to Joe, Pip travels home, forced to share a coach with a pair of convicts, one of whom is the mysterious stranger who gave Pip money in the pub. Though this man does not recognize Pip, Pip overhears him explaining that the convict Pip helped that long-ago night in the marshes had asked him to deliver the money to Pip. Pip is so terrified by his memory of that night that he gets off the coach at its first stop within the town limits. When he arrives at his hotel, he reads a notice in a newspaper, from which he learns that Pumblechook is taking credit for his rise in status.

Summary: Chapter 29

When he travels to Satis House the next day, Pip pictures himself as a triumphant knight riding to rescue the Lady Estella from an evil castle. He encounters Orlick, now Miss Havisham’s porter, at the gate. When he sees Estella, he is stunned: she has become a ravishing young woman. Despite his newfound fortune, Pip feels horribly inadequate around her, as unworthy and clumsy as ever. Miss Havisham goads him on, snapping at him to continue to love Estella. Pip walks with Estella in the garden, but she treats him with indifference, and he becomes upset. Pip realizes that she reminds him of someone, but he can’t place the resemblance. Back inside, he discovers Jaggers there and feels oppressed by the lawyer’s heavy presence.

Summary: Chapter 30

The next day, Pip tells Jaggers about Orlick’s past, and Jaggers fires the man from Miss Havisham’s employ. Pip is mocked by the tailor’s apprentice as he walks down the street. He returns in low spirits to London, where Herbert tries to cheer him up, though he also tries to convince him that, even if Miss Havisham is his secret benefactor, she does not intend for him to marry Estella. Herbert confesses to Pip that he, too, is in love and, in fact, has a fiancée named Clara, but he is too poor to marry her.

Summary: Chapter 31

Pip and Herbert go to the theater, where Wopsle plays a ridiculous Hamlet. Pip takes the hapless actor out to dinner following the play, but his mood remains sour.

Summary: Chapter 32

Pip receives a note from Estella, ordering him to meet her at a London train station. He arrives very early and encounters Wemmick, who takes him on a brief tour of the miserable grounds of Newgate Prison. Pip feels uncomfortable in the dismal surroundings, but Wemmick is oddly at home, even introducing Pip to a man who has been sentenced to death by hanging.

Summary: Chapter 33

When Pip meets Estella, he is again troubled by her resemblance to someone he can’t place. She treats Pip arrogantly, but sends him into ecstatic joy when she refers to their “instructions,” which makes him feel as though they are destined to be married. After he escorts her through the gaslit London night to the house at which she is staying, he returns to the Pockets’ home.

Summary: Chapter 34

Pip feels terribly guilty for his snobbish treatment of Joe and Biddy, and he feels as though his degenerate lifestyle has been a bad influence on Herbert. The two young men catalog their debts, but they are interrupted by a letter carrying the news that Mrs. Joe has died.

Summary: Chapter 35

Pip is surprised by the intensity of his sadness about his sister’s death. He returns home at once for the funeral. He meets Pumblechook, who continues to fawn over him irritatingly. He tries to mend his relations with Joe and Biddy; Biddy is skeptical of his pledges to visit more often. Pip says goodbye to them the next morning, truly intending to visit more often, and walks away into the mist.

Analysis: Chapters 27–35

These chapters cover a dark and humiliating time for Pip. Ironically, Pip’s dizzying rise in social status is accompanied by a sharp decline in his confidence and happiness. He is humiliated in no fewer than four important scenes in this section. First, Joe’s visit to London reintroduces the theme of social contrast, showing just how awkward Pip’s position between the social classes has become; he worries both that Joe will disapprove of his new life and that the figures in his new life will disapprove of Joe. Second, he is frightened by the convicts in the coach, who remind him of his childhood encounter on the marsh. Third, even his return home is keenly embarrassing, as he learns of Pumblechook’s false boast and finds himself mocked by the tailor’s apprentice in Chapter 30. And, fourth, most painful of all, what he hopes will be a triumphant return to Satis House as a gentleman is a complete failure: Estella treats him just as cruelly as ever, reminding him coldly that she has “no heart.”

Pip’s behavior throughout this period is not admirable: he treats Joe with barely disguised hostility during Joe’s visit to London, and he behaves haughtily and coldly throughout this section. The difference between Pip the character and Pip the narrator becomes clear here. When he visits Satis House, Pip the character feels irritated and unhappy at the thought of visiting Joe, but Pip the narrator judges himself harshly for having felt that way, writing “God forgive me!” in Chapter 29. As a character, Pip is in the grip of his immediate emotions, but as a narrator, he has the capacity to look at his life from a broader perspective and to judge himself. Dickens uses that contrast well, giving Pip the wisdom of hindsight without sacrificing the immediacy of his story.

Pip’s guilt over his behavior toward Joe and Biddy reaches a high point at Mrs. Joe’s funeral. He is stunned by the news of his sister’s death. More than anyone else except for Joe, Mrs. Joe raised Pip, and her death marks an important point in his maturation toward adulthood and the development of his character. He tries to rectify his behavior toward his lower-class loved ones, but they are skeptical of his promises to improve, and with good reason. Pip really does mean to visit them more, as he promises Biddy in Chapter 35, but when he leaves, he walks into the rising mists, which symbolize ambiguity and confusion throughout Great Expectations; even he knows he is unlikely to honor his promise.

Mr. Wopsle’s rise as an actor works as a sort of parody of Pip’s rise as a gentleman. The country churchman is as ridiculous onstage in Chapter 31 as Pip feels on the street when Trabb, the tailor’s boy, mocks him. Another important contrast to Pip in this section is Herbert, whose practical dream of becoming a merchant, earning money, and marrying Clara is virtually the opposite of Pip’s fairy-tale rise in status and his irrational belief that Miss Havisham means for him to marry Estella.

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The Ending

by mdd07c, September 16, 2012

So do Pip and Estella end up marrying each other? The language seems ambiguous and there is no mention of whether they do or not in this sparknotes!

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53 out of 75 people found this helpful

To answer your question..

by shoomate, September 18, 2012

In the original ending, they did not get together. Estella got remarried after Dummle died, and thought Joe and Biddy's son was Pip's son, and Pip didn't correct her. In the second and final ending, Estella and Pip reunite in the garden, and it says "there was no shadow of another parting from her", basically meaning they got together. It doesn't tell the reader 100% that they got married or anything, but it is highly likely they did in this ending.

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38 out of 54 people found this helpful

great expectations

by nthuteng, September 25, 2012

so what is the significance of Newgate for Pip's development from childhood to the end of the novel? and how does the narrator uses manners to comment on moral awareness

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