Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 26-28 - (Volume II, Chapters 7-9)

Summary

Pip, Herbert, Drummle, and Startop meet Jaggers at his office because he has invited them to his house for dinner. Pip has previously seen Jaggers' cleaning ritual of meticulously washing his hands between court cases or clients. Today before heading home, the ritual is expanded. Jaggers not only washes his hands but also his face, gargles his throat, and uses a penknife to scrape under his nails. His home is stately but in need of paint and the windows need cleaning. Although it is quite large, he uses only three rooms. Everything is of fine quality, official, and solid, but nothing is fancy or ornamental.

Jaggers gets into the heads of his dinner guests, extracting their personalities from them during the course of dinner, wine, and conversation, like he might extract a confession from a suspect. He is especially interested in Drummle, and refers to him as the "Spider" or the "blotchy, sprawly, sulky fellow." Jaggers personally attends to his guests' drinks and condiments — the only other help is from his maid, who brings in the food for him to serve. Pip remembers Wemmick's mention of the strange maid and he observes that her face is disturbed. The young men drink too much and quarrel, revealing their personal differences. Promptly at nine-thirty, Jaggers announces he has work left to do and then proceeds to "wash off" his dinner guests.

Pip receives a note that Joe is coming to visit him, something he dreads. He is relieved Joe is coming to the Barnard Inn and not Hammersmith, where Joe would be subject to Drummle's judgments. Pip has been living high and spending too much, and he even has a servant now. Joe arrives and is ill at ease: He is out of character in his dress clothes, wipes his feet for what seems forever before coming in, fidgets with his hat (which keeps falling on the floor), and keeps calling Pip "Sir." On observing the closeness of the apartment, he wonders how they stay healthy and adds that he would not keep a pig there. His struggle with the fork, food, and table manners embarrasses Pip. Finally Joe delivers his message sent by Miss Havisham: Estella is back and would be glad to see him. Acknowledging that he and Pip are not meant to be together in London, Joe leaves shortly afterward. Pip, guilty, and realizing he did nothing to make the man comfortable, goes after him. But Joe is gone.

Pip catches a coach home, riding with two convicts who are being transferred to the Hulks. They do not recognize Pip, but he recognizes one of them as the man from the Jolly Bargemen with the shilling and the two one-pound notes. He overhears them talking about Pip's convict and that he was made a lifer. They arrive at the Blue Boar, where Pip has decided to stay for his visit. He had planned to see Joe, but keeps finding excuses to avoid the man. The waiter gives Pip a newspaper article about Pumblechook, who again proclaims himself Pip's first benefactor.

Analysis

Jaggers' life is his work, which is clear because his house is in need of repair. The fact that it is gloomy, furnished with only essentials, and that he only uses three rooms indicates he is a rational, functional type who does not indulge himself in ornamental things. At the dinner, Jaggers dissects the psyches of the young men, getting them to reveal their flaws. Drummle especially interests him and later Jaggers tells Pip he likes the man because Drummle is one of the "true sort." The lawyer's interest in Drummle is probably a professional one. Jaggers deals with the raw side of humanity every day working with the criminal, violent, unbridled types. Drummle, in spite of his family's station, is of the same mold and Jaggers finds him interesting, much as one may find it interesting to dissect an insect. The spider reference indicates as much, and alludes to a predatory nature. Jaggers shows a fatherly concern for Pip when he warns Pip to stay away from the man. A methodical, disciplined man, Jaggers promptly ends the dinner at nine-thirty to return to work, and Pip observes Jaggers washing his hands of them. The hand-washing, gargling, finger-nail cleaning ritual is likely Jaggers' way of separating himself from the criminal world of his office and from any emotional attachments in his life.

Continued on next page...

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

Miss Havisham’s is obsessed with which event from the past?




Quiz