Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 20-22 - (Volume II, Chapters 1-3)

Summary

Pip arrives at Jaggers' office, located in a rundown business area of London. The lawyer is not there, so Pip waits in his office, a dark, dismal, airless room accented with odd things like an old rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard, and two casts of swollen faces. Jaggers chair reminds Pip of a coffin. Unable to take the oppressiveness, Pip walks around the area, passing through the filth, fat, and foam of the Smithfield markets. He walks near Newgate Prison where a drunk minister of justice shows him the gallows, and into Bartholomew Close where many people are anxiously waiting for Jaggers. They hope to hire him or hear news of relatives' cases. Jaggers arrives and is condescending to all of them, dealing only with those who have paid their bills. Speaking to witnesses in his office he is careful not to hear, do, or say anything illegal, staying just within the law in all his dealings.

Pip learns from Jaggers that he will be staying at Barnard Inn with Mr. Pocket's son until Monday, when they will go to Mr. Pocket's house. Pip is given an allowance and Jaggers tells him frankly that he will track Pip's spending to know when Pip is running up debts. He fully expects Pip will do this. His clerk, Wemmick, a dry man who wears many mourning rings from dead clients, takes him to Barnard Inn. The inn is dismal and dreary, and because of his surroundings, Pip feels that London is overrated. He meets Herbert Pocket, whom Pip realizes is the pale young gentlemanfrom Miss Havisham's. The two become good friends and Herbert nicknames Pip, Handel, after a piece of Handel's music, the Harmonious Blacksmith. Over dinner, in between gently correcting Pip's table manners, Herbert tells Pip about Jaggers, Miss Havisham, Estella, Herbert's father, and himself.

Pip's guardian, Jaggers, is also Miss Havisham's lawyer. He is acquainted with Herbert's father, Matthew Pocket, because Matthew is Miss Havisham's cousin, though the two are not on good terms. Herbert explains that Miss Havisham was to be married to a fine gentleman who swindled some money from her, and then left her at the altar. The man apparently conspired with Miss Havisham's half-brother, Arthur, who was in debt and did not like Miss Havisham. As to Estella, she has always been there, adopted years ago by Miss Havisham. Herbert does not like Estella, and he feels that she is hard, proud, and brought up to wreak revenge on all men for Miss Havisham. Pip explains his expectations briefly and mentions that there are to be no inquiries about who the benefactor is. Both young men suspect it is Miss Havisham. Herbert currently works in a counting-house, but is an aspiring "capitalist" who hopes to insure merchant ships and make his fortune someday. Pip doubts he will ever achieve this.

The following Monday the two proceed to Hammersmith where Pip meets Matthew Pocket and the rest of the family. The many Pocket children are "tumbling up," growing up without much supervision or interest from Mrs. Pocket or her nurses. Mrs. Pocket greets Pip, is oblivious to everything around her, and resumes reading her book. Pip then meets the perplexed and confused Mr. Pocket, a man not in charge of anything going on in his household, least of all, his wife.

Analysis

Pip is suffering the second thoughts common to most people when getting used to a new place and as such, feels that London is overrated. There may be an undercurrent of guilt in this, a feeling of "I left Joe and the forge for this?" Guilt is strong in him when he notes how quickly he is able to put mental distance between himself and home. He has just arrived and it already seems like he left home months ago. Wemmick's surprise when Pip reaches to shake his hand is another indication life in London is different. Basic rituals of friendship and kindness are either overlooked or have been corrupted into a trying to get something from someone.

Continued on next page...

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