Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 29-31 - (Volume II, Chapters 10-12)

Summary

Pip is convinced that Miss Havisham intends to adopt him and have him marry Estella. He sees himself as the knight in shining armor bringing sunshine into that house and their lives. Orlick is now working as Miss Havisham's guard and Pip is nervous when Orlick points out the loaded gun with the brass-bound stock over the chimney. Estella is even more beautiful than before and Pip is again under the spell of the place and the old influences. She tells Pip that his old companions will not do with his new image, which convinces him to avoid Joe. She also warns him that she loves no one, not even him, and to believe her in this. But as Pip wheels Miss Havisham around the rooms, he observes that the enchantment is even stronger now. Miss Havisham revels in her revenge and urges him to love Estella no matter how she treats him. Jaggers arrives for dinner along with Sarah Pocket, who is still green with envy about Pip. Before Pip leaves, Miss Havisham tells him that Estella will be coming to London and he will be notified so that he can escort her.

The next morning, Pip breakfasts with Jaggers and mentions his fears about Orlick. Jaggers decides to fire the man, much to Pip's discomfort. On his way to catch the London coach, Pip runs into Trabb's boy. The tailor's assistant makes a spectacle of mocking Pip and drawing attention to him. Pip manages to escape but when he is back in London, he writes an angry letter to Trabb telling him he will not do business with a man who employs such a poor assistant. Also, because his conscience is bothering him, Pip sends Joe a penitential codfish and barrel of oysters. Herbert tries in vain to talk Pip out of pursuing Estella, but as usual, Pip cannot let go even though he knows Estella is wrong for him. Herbert tells Pip about his fiancée, Clara, and how he cannot marry her yet because he has no money. Pip has his own money worries because he does not know who his benefactor is and how much money he is to get, and because he has no formal job training, what he will do if he loses it. To soothe their depressed hearts, they go out to see Wopsle perform in a play.

Analysis

The chapter with Wopsle's play is mostly a side show that Dickens puts in for humor. The thread about Wopsle is there so that later in the book he can warn Pip that Compeyson is trailing him. Tags such as references to thick boots, being coarse and common, and Sarah Pocket as Pip's green and yellow friend continue, and the secrecy theme is seen in Herbert's keeping his engagement to Clara a secret from his mother. There are again references to the fantasy theme. Pip talks about being under the spell and enchantment of the old influences and sees himself as the knight of romance who will "admit sunshine into the dark rooms, set the clocks a going and the cold hearths a blazing." He also worries about losing his money, because he cannot support himself and he believes that money is the key to Estella.

Pip is obsessed with Estella. He knows it and Herbert knows it, but nothing can stop Pip. This is addiction, not love. Miss Havisham's definition of love is the best clue. What she describes is a sick dependency, not genuine caring, and the old woman revels in Pip's response to Estella. There is no question that she is beautiful, and even Jaggers steals a glance at Estella during the card game. Pip has no identity of his own because he has no goal in life other than to please Miss Havisham and love Estella. He snubs Joe to please them.

Pip is also a coward who deals with people "long distance." He avoids Joe when he is home, so he soothes his conscience by sending the man a barrel of oysters. He manages to get Orlick fired, but it is Jaggers who does the dirty work of firing him. His complaints about Trabb's boy are sent in a letter. Pip doesn't face the people he hurts or the consequences of his actions, and if he does, he acts like a victim. When Pip complains about his servant, it sounds like the servant is in control, not Pip. His complaints seem similar to those of the adults around him when he was a boy. Pip is Pumblechook. By comparison, Estella seems downright caring when she warns Pip not to love her. She is, at least, honest and forthright.

Glossary

Tag and Rag and Bobtail riff-raff or rabble.

whist a card game that was the forerunner to bridge.

being insured in some extraordinary Fire Office at that time, fire insurance companies put plaques on the buildings they insured. They also had their own frire engine companies. When the fire companies were racing to a fire, the emblem on the building let them know if it was one of their buildings to save.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

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




Quiz