Free Study Guide for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Book Summary
Pip decides to pay Miss Havisham and Estella a visit.
The negative effect of Pip’s transformation is painfully obvious here. He is uneasy with a visit from his first dear friend, and thinks himself too good to be seen with a mere blacksmith. Joe’s warm advances are met with cool class-consciousness, and when the humble blacksmith calls Pip “sir” the unkindness reaches a peak. Pip makes his snobbery obvious enough that Joe takes his exit with a few touching words on their past relationship. Pip, shamed by Joe’s dignity and his own appalling behavior, runs to apologize, but Joe is gone.
Pip hurriedly prepares to visit Estella, excited by the prospect of seeing her now that he is a gentleman. He decides against staying with Joe, since he believes such an arrangement would be inappropriate for his class, and opts instead to stay at the Blue Boar. He shares the coach with two convicts who are being transferred to the Hulks. Pip recognizes one of them as the strange man from long ago whom he had seen with Joe’s file. The man, however, does not recognize Pip in his upper-class finery. Pip dozes, waking in time to hear the familiar convict tell the other about two one-pound notes he once gave a young boy in a bar. Pip listens, recognizing himself as the recipient. The convict tells the other that he was given the two one-pound notes by a “lifer” and told to reward a young boy who had once fed him and given him a file. A lifer is a convict sentenced to stay in prison forever.
Aside from the interesting dramatic twist provided by the conversation of the two convicts on the coach, the only thing of import is Pip’s rush to visit Estella. Estella has always treated him cruelly, arbitrarily nice and mean. Yet he rushes off to visit her at once. In contrast, he has just snubbed Joe, who has been nothing but kind to him. Pip’s behavior is more than problematic--it is inexcusable.
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. 09 May 2017