Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 46-48 - (Volume III, Chapters 7-9)

Summary

After spending the day resting at Wemmick's house, Pip heads out to see Magwitch. He meets Clara, Herbert's fiancée, and her father, Mr. Barley, an alcoholic retired ship's purser who is close to death. Magwitch, under the name of Campbell, occupies two bright and airy rooms at the top of the house. Pip notices that he seems much "softer" now, a change Pip cannot figure out.

Magwitch, Pip, and Herbert discuss what to do. It is agreed that Magwitch remain there in hiding. When the time is right, Pip and Magwitch will go abroad. Herbert suggests that he and Pip get a boat and start rowing on the river to establish that as part of their routine. Then they can get Magwitch on board a ship without involving anyone else. Magwitch will signal from the window with the blinds when he sees them, to let them know he is well. As the weeks wear on and there is no word from Wemmick about when to leave, Pip's affairs start to get dire. He sells some of his jewelry to pay his bills. To kill some time, Pip goes to the theater one evening to see Mr. Wopsle's latest theatrical failure. He notices Wopsle staring intently at him during one scene and later learns that Wopsle was staring at the man right behind him. He is the same man Pip and Wopsle saw fighting with Pip's convict on the marshes years ago. Realizing the man is Compeyson, Pip knows he is being followed and sends a note to Wemmick at Walworth.

About a week later, Jaggers invites Pip to dine with Wemmick and him. Jaggers has a note for Pip from Miss Havisham, and through very dry hints from Wemmick, Pip understands to see her tomorrow. Jaggers notes that the Spider has won the pool, meaning Drummle has married Estella, and observes that the winner of the power play between the two has yet to be decided. He observes that a man like Drummle either beats or cringes, and toasts to the success of Mrs. Bentley Drummle. Molly comes in at that moment and some action of her fingers suddenly trips a memory in Pip of Estella's fingers when she was knitting. He realizes that Molly is Estella's mother.

On the way home, Wemmick tells Pip how Molly was on trial years ago for murdering an older, stronger woman who was allegedly having an affair with Molly's husband. Jaggers was her lawyer, and this case is the one that actually made him successful. He artfully dressed her to look weaker than she was, made no comment about her strong hands, and proved the scratches on her hands were from bramble bushes not a struggle. Also it was said Molly murdered her child to get even with her husband, but Jaggers was able to sway the jury away from that opinion. Molly has worked for Jaggers ever since.

Analysis

Dickens often cast the children in his stories as orphans, perhaps due to the abandonment he felt as a child. That trend continues in this book with Pip who is an orphan, and Estella, Clara, and Herbert who have living parents that are either unknown or useless to them. The foreshadowing of evil continues when Pip detects that Compeyson is following him.

Other elements that repeat in these chapters are the "emotional" face casts in Jaggers' office; Jaggers' handwashing, letter-writing, candle-snuffing, and safe-locking routines; the spider metaphor with Drummle (nicknamed "the spider") winning Estella; and the twin Wemmick's and his post-office mouth. New elements are the pieces of Molly's story falling into place and Pip's realization that she is Estella's mother. Jaggers' comment about the power struggle between Drummle and Estella, and his prophetic mention of Drummle beating or cringing, foreshadows the outcome of that struggle.

Glossary

Pool below Bridge the area downriver from, or east of, London Bridge.

Mill Pond Bank, Chink's Basin; the Old Green Copper Rope-Walk these locations are likely fictitious. The last one means "the place where ropes used to be made out of oxidized copper wire." However, at this time, copper wire was not used in ropes yet. Another meaning is the long narrow shed or roofed over alley where ropemakers twisted hemp strands into rope.

chandler's shop originally, a shop specializing in candles; here, it refers to a general store, which would also stock candles. A chandler was, originally, a maker or seller of candles.

Double Gloucester a thick, creamy cheese that is twice as large and old as regular Gloucester. Herbert's concern here is that the old man will hurt himself trying to cut through it.

Geographical chop-house . . . porter-pot a less-than-clean restaurant serving beefsteaks and mutton-chops and catering to clientele who are not concerned with neat eating habits. The porter-pot was a pot for holding cheap, bitter, dark-brown beer named for the people who drank it—porters and workingmen.

pudding in the cloth a dinner made by putting a flour mixture in a pudding bag, sometimes adding meat or vegetables, and boiling it.

young person in bed-furniture the person's clothes appear to be made from the curtains off of a four-poster bed.

swab a lowly seaman.

black gaiters cloth or leather coverings for the insteps and ankles, and, sometimes, the calves of the legs; also, spats or leggings.

plenipotentiary a person, especially a diplomatic agent, given full authority to act as representative of a government.

dance a hornpipe lively dance played on a hornpipe, which is an obsolete wind instrument with a bell and mouthpiece made of horn.

sententious tending to use a lot of maxims or proverbs and often inclined to moralize more than is appreciated.

antipodes that is, through a trapdoor.

necromantic work book of black magic or sorcery.

game at Bo-Peep Pip is referring to the plaster casts in Jaggers' office that, in the shadowy reflections of the fire, look as if they are playing peekaboo with him. This is another example of human actions or emotions ascribed to inanimate objects.

over the broomstick a folk marriage ceremony, essentially one with no legal status. Because Estella's parents were married this way, she is illegitimate.

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