Free Study Guide for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Book Summary
Miss Havisham agrees to extend financial help to Herbert on Pip’s request. She seems kinder, almost warm. She wants Pip’s forgiveness for all she has done and she wants to show him she is not a heartless old woman. Pip asks about Estella and has his suspicions confirmed by the news that Jaggers brought Estella to Satis House when the child was barely two or three years old.
Pip goes for a walk to clear his head. When he returns, he sees Miss Havisham and her old faded wedding dress go up in flames. Pip rushes to save her, and once again she begs him to forgive her. The doctor arrives and the badly burnt Miss Havisham is lain on the table where her cake sits. The doctor says that although she has been badly burnt, the greatest danger to her life is the terrible shock. Pip is burnt as well, and he kisses the old lady good-bye and goes off in search of Herbert.
This part of the novel advances the theme that no matter how one conducts oneself in life, one’s good nature always asserts itself at the end. Miss Havisham--after having manipulated Estella’s life, encouraging false illusions in Pip, and using Pip as an instrument to make her relatives envious--realizes her mistakes and feels remorseful. She begs Pip for forgiveness with a broken heart. Here, Pip sees a different Miss Havisham than he has ever known--a tenderhearted woman who genuinely wishes to help Pip and Herbert and earn forgiveness. She also realizes that Estella and Pip should have been together and that because of her bitter heart Estella was brought up to spite Pip. Miss Havisham holds herself responsible for separating Pip and Estella and making their lives miserable.
Pip receives severe burns in the attempts to save Miss Havisham, and Herbert nurses his wounds. Herbert tells Pip that he has learned more about Magwitch. From what he tells Pip, Pip realizes Magwitch’s wife is Molly and his daughter is Estella.
Pip goes to Jaggers to collect the money for Herbert’s career and tells Jaggers what he has learned. Jaggers tells Pip this news is better if it is kept secret. He says Estella was the one child through the years whom he could save from the criminal world.
From this point on, the novel is winding down, tying up loose ends and closing certain mysteries. Pip makes a fascinating deduction about Estella, but he loves her too much to reveal anything that would ruin her life. For him it is merely an exercise in learning more about the young woman.
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. 09 May 2017