Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 23-25 - (Volume II, Chapters 4-6)

Summary

Mrs. Pocket believes herself to be of upper-class lineage and spends most of her time reading books about titles and nobility. The entire household is in the hands of the servants, who take advantage of the confusion by keeping the best food downstairs for themselves. The Pockets married young, which impaired Mr. Pocket's prospects at Cambridge where he had distinguished himself early in his life. He now works tutoring young men and doing some literary editing. The other two men studying with Mr. Pocket are Bentley Drummle and Startop. Dinner reveals the interactions in the household, which is general chaos, and Pip decides to split his time between the Pockets' Hammersmith home and Herbert's flat. Pip takes up rowing on the Thames with the other gentlemen in the house. He finds Startop to be a bright lively fellow, if a bit effeminate, and Drummle to be rather distasteful. Miss Havisham's toady relatives, Camilla Pocket and her husband, visit Matthew Pocket, and Pip notes that Camilla, Georgiana, and Sarah hate him. Mr. Pocket tells Pip that he is not destined for training in any profession, but is to be educated to hold his own in the company of prosperous young men.

A visit to Jaggers' office for money introduces Pip to Jaggers' way of dealing with people. Wemmick tells Pip that the two plaster face casts in the office are of former clients of Jaggers, made after they were hanged. Wemmick points out that his rings are gifts from former clients, also deceased, who gave them to Wemmick to remember them by. He considers them "portable property." Pip is invited to join Wemmick at his Walworth home some time and is advised to take note of Jaggers' housekeeper when Pip dines with the attorney. The housekeeper is described as "a wild beast tamed." Pip then accompanies Wemmick to court to see Jaggers "at it," intimidating both court magistrates and clients and "grinding the whole place in a mill."

Pip dines with Wemmick one evening at his Walworth home, where he meets Wemmick's father, referred to as the Aged Parent. He also meets a totally different Wemmick. At his home, the law clerk is gentle with his father, open, caring and warm — the opposite of his law-office demeanor. Wemmick's home is his castle, complete with a moat, a bridge, a turret, and a cannon to fire every night at nine o'clock. He has his own garden, a pig, and some rabbits and chickens, and continues to invent and improve on devices in his home and yard. Pip learns that Wemmick keeps the two parts of his life very separate. This is evident as the two men walk to London the next day, and Pip notes that as they went along Wemmick "got dryer and harder . . . and his mouth tightened into a post-office again."

Analysis

Dickens' pen of satire strikes again, both at parents' abuse of their children and the class structure of society. Mrs. Pocket is useless, ornamental, and absorbed in reading about her grandfather's "almost" title. She is oblivious to caring for her children, who fall on their heads, swallow pins, and endure other almost calamities. Mrs. Pocket is put out when a neighbor writes that the nurse was striking the baby and wishes the neighbors would mind their own business. Mr. Pocket alternates between wondering why his children are there and melting into giving them all money. His children just sort of "happened" and he is not in control enough to meet any of their emotional needs.

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