Great Expectations Summary and Analysis

Part II, Chapters 1-10 (20-29)

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Part II: Chapter 1:

Pip goes to London and, compared with his last images of the marshes, finds it "ugly, crooked, narrow and dirty." He meets with Jaggers, who tells him that he will be boarding with Matthew Pocket. He meets Wemmick, Jagger's square-mouth clerk.

Analysis:

Once again, Dickens is using place, and Pip's attitude toward it, as symbolism. In this case, London is the setting for Pip's great expectations, but immediately we find it rather ugly, unnatural, and suffocating, giving us an indication of how those great expectations may be played out. Ironically, Jagger's office is located in a place called "Little Britain" and it has all the trappings of death: a chair that looks like it was made of the same material as a coffin and death masks on the hearth. This, then, is Pip's grand future.

Part II: Chapter 2:

Wemmick brings Pip to Bernard's Inn, where he will be staying when he is in town. The Inn appears to Pip to be a fairly run-down, decrepit place. There he meets his guide and roommate for the next few days, Matthew Pocket's son Herbert. Herbert Pocket and Pip recognize each other when they meet: Herbert is the pale young gentleman that Pip fought in the garden of Miss Havisham's so long ago.

Analysis:

Though Pip grew up in what might be considered rural poverty, his new digs in the city seem much more poor in nature than the warmth of the forge. The only warm spot appears to be Herbert, whom Pip had first met under strange, and violent, circumstances.

Part II: Chapter 3:

Herbert Pocket prepares a simple dinner and explains his relationship to Miss Havisham. His father, Matthew Pocket, is Miss Havisham's cousin. Miss Havisham was doted on by her father her whole life and shared her only with a half brother, the son of her father and the cook. Miss Havisham fell in love with a swindler and Matthew Pocket tried to warn her about him. Angrily, she demanded that Matthew leave the house and not return.

Miss Havisham is then jilted on the day of her wedding, her fiancé leaving her only a letter. The rumor was that the fiancé had worked in conspiracy with her younger brother, who may have wanted to exact revenge on the more favored.

Miss Havisham adopts Estella and raises her to wreak revenge on the male gender by making them fall in love with her, and then jilting them.

The next day, Herbert brings Pip to meet his father, and his seven siblings, in the outlying area of Hammersmith.

Analysis:

The theme of the meal as a reflection of human companionship again returns in this chapter. The meal prepared by Herbert is simple and the table setting is balanced on a number of pieces of furniture, clearly showing it as a non-traditional set-up. And yet, Pip enjoys himself immensely, and feels that Herbert, despite the fact that he may have lost favor in Miss Havisham's eyes (and thus Pip has taken his inheritance), is honest and has no capability for bitterness at all.

Pip and the reader are again reminded none to subtly that the "lap of luxury" is, in fact, not material or social gain, but the simple joy of eating with sincere friends. In fact, we are given Matthew Pocket's definition of a gentleman, repeated by his son:"... no man who was not a true gentleman at heart, ever was... a true gentleman in manner." Young Pip, however, is not ready to learn this lesson.

Part II: Chapter 4:

The Pocket household turns out to be a comical jumble of children, nurses, and boarders, all held together loosely under Matthew Pocket's weary gaze. Mrs. Pocket had been raised with high expectations herself and brought up to be "highly ornamental, but perfectly helpless and useless." She seems to have little idea of child rearing, leaving the young ones in the hands of two nurses. Pip observes the chaos over a meal.

Analysis:

Dickens, pointedly, is making two criticisms here aimed at English society. The first is a humorous critique of England's obsession with titles in their class system. Mrs. Pocket is, in fact, so caught up in titles that she spends her whole day reading a book about them. She is disappointed by her own lot in life, though she seems not to have to do any household duties and has a good man for a husband. She is caught up in the class system in complete oblvion to what is going on around her. She is actually raised, Pip finds out, to be utterly useless and to be taken care of.

The second criticism is Dicken's continuing them of child abuse, and the many ways in which children are oppressed and marginalized. In the Pocket family the children are not necessarily physically abused (though their lives appear in danger sometimes from lack of supervision) or under fed or made to work, but there seems to be psychological abuse by there mere numbers. The parents, Matthew and Mrs. Pocket, have little to no time for a decent rearing of the children.

Part II: Chapter 5:

Pip finds Matthew Pocket to be, like his son, serious, honest, and good. Because Matthew Pocket was earnest in teaching Pip, Pip feels earnest in learning and progresses well. At the same time, he is drawn by the city life within London and asks Jaggers if he can live permanently at the Bernard Inn with Herbert, instead of boarding in Hammersmith. Jaggers agrees.

Wemmick brings Pip to watch Jaggers in court, where Pip observes him "grinding the whole place in a mill."

Analysis:

The honesty and earnestness of Matthew Pocket is contrasted in this chapter with the logical, though not necessarily honest, character of Jaggers. In fact, Jagger's morality is not based on what is actually just, it is only based on a game of words. Guilt or innocence is not decided in Jaggers' mind by who is actually guilty or innocent, or even who has the most evidence or not, it is based on the talent of the lawyer to massage out of the participants the desired verdict.

Again, Dicken's is taking a rather direct critical shot at the judicial system and lawyers in general.

Part II: Chapter 6:

While at the Pockets, Pip comes to know the family surrounding Miss Havisham. Camilla is Matthew Pocket's sister, Georgiana is a cousin. Pip also grows close to Herbert.

Pip is invited to dinner at Wemmick's whose slogan seems to be "Office is one thing, private life is another." Indeed, Wemmick has a fantastical private life. Although he lives in a small cottage, the cottage has been modified to look a bit like a castle, complete with moat, drawbridge, and a firing cannon. Pip finds Wemmick an entertaining host, far different from the Wemmick at the office.

Analysis:

Dicken's humorously uses Wemmick to show how conforming to society, in this case Wemmick's job at Jaggers, can twist a person so much as to make them unidentifiable. It is almost as if Wemmick's private and life and public life have made him a split personality. The one, a grim clerk with a dry callousness, the other, an imaginative, caring, generous esoteric.

Literally, Wemmick's home is his castle, and Wemmick talks in terms of defending this private home against the encroachment of the hard city life. Pip's meal there, complete with the customary cannon firing, continues the thematic use of meals with a series that introduces Part II of the novel. In this meal, Pip is brought to understand the entertaining imagination, as well as the caring humanity, of an acquaintance whom he presumed was a dull clog in the city machine.

Part II: Chapter 7:

The next day, Jaggers himself invites Pip and friends to dinner. Pip brings Herbert as well as the other Pocket boarders, including Startop and Drummle, a mopey depressed aristocrat. Pip and his friends find themselves revealing their relationships quite clearly, specifically all of their irritation at the insulting Drummle.

Pip, on Wemmick's suggestion, looks carefully at Jagger's servant woman -- a "tigress" according to Wemmick. She is about forty, and seems to regard Jaggers with a mix of fear and duty.

Analysis:

Dickens uses this chapter to once again present mysteries that the narrator Pip hints will be solved in upcoming issues. Of all the young men invited to Jagger's house, Jaggers is especially pleased and interested in the unfriendly Drummle. It is a strange choice for Jaggers and we are led to believe that Drummle will become a more important character later in the novel. As well, Wemmick's singling the servant woman out as one to be watched and Jagger's own proud demonstration of her scarred wrists, indicate that she too will reoccur.

This chapter presents yet another meal, this one serving as an airing of dirty laundry, much to the enjoyment of the host Jaggers. The evening ends in an argument between the boarders and we learn nothing personal about Jaggers himself. Used as a comparison to Pip's meal with Wemmick, it appears that Jaggers is what he seems to be: a nearly mechanical rationalist, with a cold scientific fascination for the psychology of people, but with a complete lack of emotional involvement with them. In fact, we are given the feeling that a good insulting argument is more entertaining to Jaggers than a peaceful communion of friends.

Part II: Chapter 8:

Biddy write to Pip to tell him Joe is coming into London and would like to visit him. Pip does not look "with pleasure" on this.

Joe shows up for breakfast and tells Pip that Miss Havisham wants him to know Estella is back at the Satis House. The conversation is apologetic and stilted, Joe addresses Pip as "sir," and Joe stays only for a few minutes. He tells Pip that he is out of his element, and that if Pip would like to see the real Joe and sit down and talk like old times, he should visit the forge.

Analysis:

Once again, we are presented with the meal theme, this meal an uncomfortable clash between Pip's new "gentlemanly" life and his "common" life at the forge. Joe even uses the word "wittles," which was last used by the convict that Pip met in the marshes, symbolizing all of Pip's past that he is trying to separate from.

Joe, like Dickens, knows the importance of place and invites Pip back to the forge where the two of them could be natural around one another.

Part II: Chapter 9:

Pip journeys back to this hometown to see Estella. He shares the carriage with two convicts who sit behind him. Pip recognizes one of them as the one-eyed man Pip met in the tavern years before who stirred his drink with the file and gave Pip a one pound note. The convict does not recognize him, but Pip overhears him tell the other convict about the note that a stranger had given him to bring to Pip.

Analysis:

We are given a number of answers to earlier mysteries in this chapter. The convict riding with Pip in this chapter was given the pound note, and, presumably, the file by the convict who Pip had helped in the opening few chapters. Other than being a fellow convict, it appears that the one-eyes man has no real relationship with that first convict.

Still, Pip feels uneasy. By the mere proximity of the convicts and their story, Pip is reminded how his past will always cling to him.

Part II: Chapter 10:

Pip imagines that Miss Havisham has adopted both he and Estella to raise them to be with each other. Pip imagines he and Estella inhabiting the old Satis House and flinging open the windows to let the sun and the breeze in.

He meets Orlick at the gate of The Satis House and learns that he is now working for Miss Havisham. He goes in to meet her and Estella, who is now older and so much more beautiful that he doesn't recognize her at first. Facing her now, he slips back "into the coarse and common voice" of his youth and she, in return, treated him like the boy he used to be. She is coming from France and on her way to live in London. They talk of his new friends and his old friends: "Who is fit for you then is not fit for you now," Estella said, asking about Joe. Pip agrees and, at that moment, decides not to go see Joe and Biddy.

It is here that Pip sees something strikingly familiar in Estella's face. He can't quite place the look, but an expression on her face reminds him of someone.

Later, they all have dinner with Jaggers, who, curiously, does not look at Estella the whole meal.

Analysis:

We are given a much greater look into the character of Estella in this chapter. It is evident, or at least Estella wants to be convinced of the fact, that Miss Havisham has been successful in raising her as a beautiful but emotionless woman. "I have no heart," she tells Pip.

Miss Havisham will have her revenge on the male gender: "I developed her into what she is, that she might be loved," she tells Pip. "Love her!"

The master-apprentice archetype is seen in a number of different relationships through Great Expectations, sometimes demonstrating the positive nature of the relationships, sometimes demonstrating the negative. The Miss Havisham/Estella master-apprentice relationship is decidedly negative. Miss Havisham raised Estella not as an individual, but as an extension of herself to fulfill that which she had not in her own life (not to find love, however, but to revenge love). In contrast, Pip was an apprentice to Joe, but Joe raised him out of generosity and love as opposed to any selfish reasons. Other master/apprentice relationships -- Mr. Trabb and his boy, Pip's own "Avenger" servant boy -- are more of a comment on the abusive treatment of children in Victorian times.