Great Expectations By Charles Dickens Summary and Analysis Chapters 52-54 - (Volume III, Chapters 13-15)

Analysis

Pip shows a great deal of personal growth and caring now. He, Herbert, and Startop risk their lives to help Magwitch, and Pip's trip to the marshes, while not smart, was motivated by a concern for Magwitch's safety. He stays by the convict after they are caught instead of trying to "separate himself" from the stain of the criminal element, which used to disturb him so much before. Pip is also seeing reality, recognizing Magwitch's decency and his own failings. Pip also knows the money is gone and he will have to face the reality of survival soon. However, he keeps this from the seriously ill Magwitch, preferring instead to let the convict die with his dream. Pip's guilt is strong when the innkeeper tells him about Pumblechook's bragging, which seems all the worse when compared with Joe's honor.

Magwitch's calmness during the escape is worth noting. He foreshadows the danger and the outcome when he speaks of not being able to see to the end of the next few hours any more than he can see the bottom of the river. Plagued by danger all his life, he has a healthy respect for it and is not afraid to confront it. However, he maintains his calm, feeling he will deal with danger if it comes and not before. Magwitch is softened in Pip's eyes — mostly a change in Pip's perceptions, but also because the convict has had a chance to do something in life that turned out well. He was given a chance to redeem himself and he has. Happy to have seen his gentleman, he is at peace now, however his life turns out. His struggle is over.

Glossary

land of Arabian nights Egypt.

limekiln a furnace or kiln used to turn limestone into lime. Though Dickens places this near the sluice-house, it is unlikely a limekiln could have burned so close to water. It most likely was further inland.

weazen an obsolete word for weasand, meaning throat.

plummet something heavy.

coal-whippers men who operated the whips or pulleys that raised coal onboard ships.

hempen hawsers rope cables.

bowsprit a large, tapered spar extending forward from the bow of a sailing vessel, to which stays for the masts are secured.

capstan an apparatus around which cables or hawsers are wound for hoisting anchors, lifting weights, and so on.

gunwale the upper edge of the side of a ship or boat.

lightermen bargemen.

fenders material, such as timber or old cables, hung over the side of a ship to protect it from banging around while in port.

thowel primitive sort of rowlock or oarlock.

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