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Free Study Guide for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Book Summary


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Pip visits Magwitch on his deathbed and tells him about Estella. Magwitch had always thought Molly killed their daughter. Pip tells him how beautiful she is and how much he has loved her. Magwitch dies happy.


As the days pass by, Pip begins to care more and more for Magwitch. Pip is a changed man now. He has learned his lessons in life. He realizes that his snobbery has caused deep pain to real people and that a manís worth has nothing to do with his place in society; instead, it is his actions that define him. He tries to redeem all his misdeeds by serving Magwitch with love and care.



Magwitchís death depresses Pip. As well, he is heavily indebted and without money. Poor health overcomes him and he is too ill to even move. Joe arrives to help, nursing him back to health and paying his debts so Pip will not go to jail. Joe tells Pip about Miss Havishamís death and her wealth, which she left to Estella and to Matthew Pocket. He also tells Pip it is not important to talk about the past. They are friends and friends understand everything. One morning Pip awakens to find Joe has gone. A note left behind tells Pip that Joe thinks he is not good enough for Pip, who will be able to start his life afresh.

Pip determines to sell his belongings and make things right with Joe. He plans to return to his childhood home and has dreams of marrying Biddy.


The character of Joe once again touches the heart of the reader. Joe is like Pipís guardian angel that arrives just in time to help him. Pip is extremely ashamed of the way he had treated Joe when he had met him last. But Joe has forgiven and forgotten all of it. They share old memories and go for long drives and Pip relives the world of childhood with his best friend Joe. By nursing Pip, Joe rekindles simple innocence in the boy. Then quietly and humbly, he slips back to his own life, hoping Pip can start his life afresh, without Joe or anyone else to hold him back.



Pip returns, only to discover to his disappointment that Biddy and Joe are to be married to one another. He wishes them well and decides to take the job offered by Herbert. After a few years of hard work, he becomes a partner; Clarriker tells Herbert the great favor that Pip had done for him by setting him up at as a partner long ago.


The novel is slowly coming to its end as the major plot lines come to a gradual close. Pipís love for both his friends is clear from the fact that he shows no disappointment at Biddyís marriage with Joe. In fact he regards them to be the best husband and wife and worthy of each other.

Pip starts a new life with his job as a clerk and lives with Herbert and his wife Clara. Clarriker divulges to Herbert that the important financial impetus to their company was given by Pip. This strengthens the bond between the two friends. Later, Pipís hard work earns him the position of a partner.



Pip returns to visit Joe, Biddy, and their young son, Pip. He learns that Drummle abused Estella and that she left him. Later, Drummle was killed in an unfortunate accident of his own doing, since he was mistreating his horse. Estella remarried.

Pip goes to Satis House, full of memories and regrets. The house is gone, and as he stands on the property, he sees Estella in the distance. They talk as old friends, acknowledging the strange twists their lives have taken. When they part, it is as friends. Pip realizes he will never stop thinking of Estella; in a sense, she will always be with him.


The final chapter is quintessentially Dickensian. The author neatly resolves all the plot lines and secures a happy resting-place for all his characters. Pip returns to Joe and Biddy after a necessary absence during which he has re-grown, and finds that they have remembered him fondly by naming their son after him. And he meets Estella one last time during which they can declare their friendship. Drummle is dead, killed by his own insensitivity toward a horse, and Estella is presumably attempting happiness with another husband. Pip realizes with fondness that he will never forget her. It is a poignant and fulfilling ending that neatly wraps up all the loose strings created by the master storyteller.

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