Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 18-19

Summary

Pip, in his fourth year of apprenticeship, joins Joe at the Jolly Bargemen, where they listen to Wopsle expound on a criminal story in the newspaper. A strange man takes issue with Wopsle's comments and proceeds to destroy his arguments. The man repeatedly bites his forefinger and throws his forefinger toward Wopsle as he makes his points. Pip recognizes him as the soap-scented man from Miss Havisham's. The man asks to speak to Joe and Pip, so they return home and sit in the state parlor. He tells them his name is Jaggers, and he is a lawyer from London with news for Pip. The young man is to come into a handsome property and therefore has great expectations. Joe and Pip are both astounded. Pip views this as his dream come true, and Pip thinks it is Miss Havisham's doing because this man is her lawyer. The two conditions to his expectations are that he must keep the name of Pip and not ask the name of his benefactor. That person will step forward when the time is right. Jaggers mentions that Pip should study with someone to learn to be a gentleman and mentions Matthew Pocket, a relative of Miss Havisham's. Jaggers is clear that he makes no recommendations, but merely gives the information. He further states that, in this matter, he is paid or he would not be there, and if his opinion were asked, he would not have recommended this gift. When Jaggers badgers Joe about financial compensation for losing Pip in the forge, Joe is insulted and is ready to fight Jaggers.

Joe struggles to control his sadness that evening, and Pip is angry with him for being sad. Yet Pip also gets angry when Joe and Biddy manage to show genuine happiness for him and ask about his preparations. When Pip heads to town to get a new suit of clothes he observes that even the cows in the pasture seem to view him more respectfully. Trabb, the tailor, cannot be helpful enough and yells at his assistant for not being respectful enough to Pip. Even Pumblechook falls all over Pip. The pompous man shakes his hand, feeds him, and pretends that they were great friends when Pip was a child.

Pip speaks to Biddy about trying to work with Joe to be less backward in his learning and manners so he will be ready when Pip "elevates" him. Biddy observes that perhaps Joe is aware of what he is and is happy and dignified filling that role with respect. Pip gets angry, accusing her of jealousy, and remarks that he will not ask anything more of her. She apologizes if she has given any slight and notes that whatever he feels toward her, it will not change what she feels for him. She does observe though that "a gentleman should not be unjust neither."

Before leaving, Pip wears his clothes to Miss Havisham's where he succeeds in making Sarah Pocket jealous. Miss Havisham feeds his belief that she is his fairy godmother. On the day of his departure, Pip asks to leave alone, not wanting to be seen with Joe and Biddy when he greets the stage in his new clothes. He tries to be indifferent about leaving, but cries as he walks away. On the coach, he struggles with mixed feelings about the way he left and considers getting off the coach and returning to make amends. However, he cannot decide, and after a bit, the coach has gone too far to go back.

Analysis

Description, repetition, and tags abound. Jaggers' tags include his watch chain, bushy eyebrows, the black dots of his beard, and his habit of biting his forefinger. He repeats his instructions that he deals only in facts, makes no recommendations, and wants everyone clear on what to expect and not expect from him. Jaggers is an honest and up-front man. He is not a warm person, but he is a much more honorable one than Mrs. Joe ever was with her emotional games and blackmail. Other tags are Pumblechook's "May I?" every time he shakes Pip's hand, and Sarah Pocket's walnut-shell countenance, which in her jealousy of Pip has now gone from brown to green and yellow.

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