Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 49-51 - (Volume III, Chapters 10-12)

Summary

In response to Miss Havisham's note, Pip visits her the next day, and though she has caused him much pain, he feels compassion for her in her loneliness. Feeling tremendously guilty for the harm she has caused, she agrees to help Herbert and asks if she can do anything for him (Pip). Pip thanks her but tells her that he is fine. She gives him a note that authorizes Jaggers to give Pip money for Herbert, and then hands him a pad and asks him to at some point, if he can ever forgive her, write down "I forgive her." Unwilling to judge her and filled with shame over his own mistakes, Pip responds that he can do it now. Miss Havisham drops to her knees crying out "What have I done!" She admits that Pip pointed out her mistake, and that her only intent when she adopted Estella was to save her from the same hurts. She now realizes she stole the girl's heart and put ice in its place. Pip asks Miss Havisham if she knows who Estella's mother was, but she only knows that Jaggers brought the girl to her. Before he leaves, Pip walks around the grounds and the brewery where as a child he had the vision of Miss Havisham hanging from the beam. Uncomfortable with the memory, Pip goes back upstairs to check on her and discovers her dress has caught on fire. He saves her from the fire, but his arms are badly burned and she is seriously hurt herself. Through the night the woman mutters over and over in the same order: "What have I done! When she first came, I meant to save her from misery like mine. Take the pencil and write under my name, I forgive her!"

Pip returns to the Temple and Herbert cares for his wounds. Herbert tells Pip how much Magwitch has "improved," and about Magwitch's wife. When Herbert relates that she killed another woman and their child in a jealous rage, Pip tells Herbert that Magwitch must be Estella's father. Herbert added that Magwitch went into hiding to avoid having to testify against her at her trial. Compeyson blackmailed Magwitch with this information, getting him deeper into crime.

Pip visits Jaggers the next day and is received with more kindness than is usually seen in the office. After resolving the issue of money for Herbert, Pip tells them he knows who Estella's parents are and proceeds to state his findings. Jaggers is surprised but recovers quickly and tries to change the subject back to business. Pip will not be put off this time and indicating his knowledge of Wemmick's emotional side, appeals to both Jaggers and Wemmick to tell him the truth. Jaggers is surprised to hear about the Aged and Wemmick's playful ways, and Wemmick points out that Jaggers is an imposter where emotions are concerned. Jaggers, acknowledging his own former "poor dreams," relents, but agrees to only tell a "theoretical" story.

He tells of a woman in need of legal help who confides in her attorney that her child is really alive, the father does not know this, and that she is guilty of the crime. The attorney, charged with finding a girl to adopt for a rich woman, and knowing the horrors of what happens to children in the legal system, places the child with the rich woman. Here is one child saved regardless of what happens to the mother. The lawyer does his best and saves the woman, but the emotions of it all affect her mind. She is unable to cope with the world. The lawyer takes the theoretical woman in and continues to keep her in line with his power whenever the old, wild ways come out. Stopping, Jaggers then asks Pip if anyone will benefit from knowing this theoretical story. Pip agrees to keep the secret. The episode has upset the unemotional balance between Wemmick and Jaggers who now view each other uncomfortably. The status quo is restored shortly when both of the men rage at a whiny client and tell him that no emotions are allowed in the office.

Continued on next page...

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