Pip anxiously waits for Wemmick’s signal to transport Magwitch downriver. Despite his softening attitude toward the convict, he feels morally obligated to refuse to spend any more of Magwitch’s money, and his debts pile up. He realizes that Estella’s marriage to Drummle must have taken place by now, but he intentionally avoids learning more about it. All of his worries are for Magwitch.
Pip goes to the theater to forget his troubles. After the performance, Wopsle tells Pip that in the audience behind him was one of the convicts from the battle on the marsh so many years ago. Pip tries to question Wopsle calmly, but inside he is terrified, realizing that Compeyson must be shadowing him. Pip rushes home to tell Herbert and Wemmick.
Jaggers invites Pip to dinner, where he gives the young man a note from Miss Havisham. When Jaggers mentions Estella’s marriage shortly after Jaggers’s housekeeper Molly walks in, Pip realizes that Molly is the person he couldn’t place, the person Estella mysteriously resembles. He realizes at once that Molly must be Estella’s mother. Walking home with Wemmick after the dinner, Pip questions his friend about Molly, and he learns that she was accused of killing a woman over her common-law husband and of murdering her little daughter to hurt him. Pip feels certain that Estella is that lost daughter.
Pip visits Miss Havisham, who feels unbearably guilty for having caused Estella to break his heart. Sobbing, she clings to Pip’s feet, pleading with him to forgive her. He acts kindly toward her, then goes for a walk in the garden. There, he has a morbid fantasy that Miss Havisham is dead. He looks up at her window just in time to see her bend over the fire and go up in a column of flame. Rushing in to save her, Pip sweeps the ancient wedding feast from her table and smothers the flames with the tablecloth. Miss Havisham lives, but she becomes an invalid, a shadow of her former self. Pip stays with her after the doctors have departed; early the next morning, he leaves her in the care of her servants and returns to London.
Pip himself was badly burned trying to save Miss Havisham, and while Herbert changes his bandages, they agree that they have both grown fonder of Magwitch. Herbert tells Pip the part of Magwitch’s story that the convict originally left out, the story of the woman in his past. The story matches that of Jaggers’s housekeeper, Molly. Magwitch, therefore, is Molly’s former common-law husband and Estella’s father.
Pip is seized by a feverish conviction to learn the whole truth. He visits Jaggers and manages to shock the lawyer by proclaiming that he knows the truth of Estella’s parentage. Pip cannot convince Jaggers to divulge any information, however, until he appeals to Wemmick’s human, kind side, the side that until now Wemmick has never shown in the office. Jaggers is so surprised and pleased to learn that Wemmick has a pleasant side that he confirms that Estella is Molly’s daughter, though he didn’t know Magwitch’s role in the story.