Magwitch, I must tell you, now at last. You understand what I say?”
A gentle pressure on my hand.
“You had a child once, whom you loved and lost.”
A stronger pressure on my hand.
“She lived and found powerful friends. She is living
now. She is a lady and very beautiful. And I love her!”
In this passage from Chapter 56,
Pip tells the dying Magwitch about his daughter, Estella, whom he
has not seen since she was a young girl. If the arrival of Magwitch
collapses Pip’s idealistic view of the upper classes, then the subsequent
revelation that Estella—Pip’s first ideal of wealth and beauty—is
the daughter of the convict buries it for good. By consoling the
dying Magwitch with the truth about Estella, Pip shows the extent
to which he has matured and developed a new understanding of what
matters in life. Rather than insisting on the idealistic hierarchy
of social class that has been his guiding principle in life, Pip
is now able to see hierarchy as superficial and an insufficient
guide to character. Loyalty, love, and inner goodness are far more
important than social designations, a fact that Pip explicitly recognizes
by openly acknowledging the complications that have made his former
view of the world impossible.