Great Expectations

Great Expectations Summary and Analysis of Part II, Chapters 11-20 (30-39)

Part II: Chapter 11:

Pip and Jaggers return to the inn in town. Pip mentions to Jaggers that Orlick may not be a trustworthy assistant to Miss Havisham and Jaggers tells Pip that he will see him fired.

Pip stays away from Joe and Biddy's house and the forge, but walks around town, enjoying the admiring looks he gets from his past neighbors. This pleasant walk is disturbed by the Trabb boy who makes fun of Pip, imitating the snobbish way he walks and barking out, "Don't know yah!" to onlookers.

Pip returns to London and talks to Herbert about Estella. Herbert himself reveals that he is in love with a woman named Clara, though it must be kept secret because his mother would think he was marrying "below station."


Although Pip continues to make decisions based on how he thinks society wants him to act -- not going to see Joe and Biddy while he is home -- we recognize the fact that he feels guilt and shame about these same decisions. Unlike Estella, Pip seems to wear his guilt on his sleeve, but his guilt shows him to have a conscience at least. Dickens uses guilt in Pip -- who seems to be the only one in the novel who experiences it -- to signal moments when Pip feels himself acting against his nature.

The Trabb boy's pranks nail Pip's shame right on the head, and his antics reflect what is going on in Pip's conscious. Pip feels he has become a parody, a proud peacock who "doesn't know yah." At the same time, Pip confesses to Herbert that he cannot let it go. He desires Estella deeply and can't seem to shake her. As long as he tries to be the person that Estella -- and society -- want, he will be acting against his nature.

Part II: Chapter 12:

Herbert and Pip go to see Wopsle in Hamlet, which turns out to be a horrible piece of theater, but a very humorous evening nonetheless because of the crowd's wisecracks.

They invite Wopsle home for dinner and listen to him rant about his performance.


Dickens presents a light hearted critique of overacted theater in this chapter. Wopsle's Hamlet is laugh-out-loud comedy. Dickens was an actor and a producer of theatrical productions himself, and there is no doubt he was probably targeting certain actors that he knew personally in this parody.

Part II: Chapter 13:

Pip receives a note from Estella that she is coming to London. She asks if he will meet her at the carriage stop.

While waiting for the carriage, Pip meets Wemmick who is on his way to Newgate prison to conduct some business. The prisoners are friendly with Wemmick, even offering to send him presents before their executions.

As Pip returns to wait for Estella, he wonders at the fact that things associated with the criminal element have strangely intercepted his life at various times, starting with the convict at the beginning of the story. He feels as if the stain of criminality is still on him from his visit to Newgate prison and how that contrasts with the beautiful Estella.

As the carriage pulls up, Pip once again sees a familiar expression in Estella's face, but cannot place it.


Pip reflects on how criminals have intercepted his life at various points, starting with the convict that he fed at the beginning and the one-eyed convict that gave him the pound note from the first convict. Now he is involved in men, Wemmick and Jaggers, who make convicts their livelihood. These thoughts are interrupted by the strangely abrupt entrance of Estella's carriage. It is strangely abrupt since Pip spent the whole chapter in anticipation, waiting for nearly six hours for it, but when it finally comes, Pip is involved in other thoughts.

Narrator Pip is hinting with these thoughts that Young Pip's interaction with criminals is not over. Their surprising involvement in his life will continue. Dicken's placing the abrupt intervention of Estella's entrance in these thoughts foreshadows a little more specifically: Estella, too, will have something to do with criminality.

Part II: Chapter 14:

Estella is to go on to Richmond, accompanied by Pip, and the two sit in a nearby cafe as they wait for the outgoing coach. Estella is to educated by a wealthy woman in Richmond with a single daughter.

Estella tells Pip that all of Miss Havisham's relatives hate him because they view Miss Havisham as his benefactor. They are always gossiping jealously, but Estella believes that Pip is still alright in Miss Havisham's eyes.

The carriage comes and they ride to Richmond talking of trivial things. Pip believes that if he were to be with her forever that he would be blissfully happy -- but this contradicts his knowledge that whenever he is with her he is "always miserable."


"We are not free to follow our own devices, you and I," says Estella, meaning that she has been given instructions for the day and they must not deviate from them. The statement, however, is a projection of how both their lives are controlled in general.

Estella is not free "to follow her own devices" not only because Miss Havisham is her adoptive mother and she should do as she says, but because Estella has been raised to actually think, feel, and act exactly as Miss Havisham wishes. In raising Estella, Miss Havisham created a puppet, an individual who indeed cannot choose her own destiny because she will act that way she has been conditioned to act.

Pip, on the other hand, is also trapped and cannot freely choose, but his lack of independence is wholly his own fault. Pip is not free to follow "his own devices" because he has trapped himself in how he thinks he needs to act, think, and feel. He believes himself to have great expectations, among these, someday, the hand of Estella, and this belief has forced him into acting a certain way (snobbishly, especially toward his past), feeling a certain way (that he is happy with Estella even if he is not), and thinking a certain way (proud and wasteful).

As hinted in the previous chapter, both Pip and Estella will find their destinies intricately tied up in their pasts. This, too, will bind them to certain actions.

The irony is that, though they think themselves trapped, both can escape their current lifestyles if they truly wanted too, just as easily as they could ignore Miss Havisham's instructions and change the plans for the day. Estella can shake off her upbringing and try to find her emotions, Pip can stop acting like an ass and lead a life which feels more natural to him.

Part II: Chapter 15:

Pip's conscience bothers him with regard to Joe and Biddy who he continues to ignore. As well, he feels guilty for leading Herbert into a life of debt by carrying him along on a very expensive lifestyle of dinners, drinks and shows.

Pip describes his life at Bernard's Inn with Herbert: "We spent as much money as we could, and got as little for it as people could make up their minds to give us. We were always more or less miserable and most of our acquaintances were in the same condition... our case was in the last aspect a common one."

They "check their affairs" by shuffling papers and bills and realize that, though they are in far in debt both, are quite unsure just how far in debt they have gone.

After one evening of "checking their affairs," a letter comes for Pip announcing the death of Mrs. Joe Gargery.


Pip makes clear in this chapter that, in general, he is not happy with his lifestyle. He is not happy with his state of mind, feeling guilty about Joe and Biddy, nor with his day-to-day life as a young gentleman about town. A symbol of the emptiness he feels with being a gentleman around town is indicated by his joining a men's club called "Finches of the Grove." The group meets over dinner, argues, and gets drunk and Narrator Pip does not respect the group of young gentleman enough to even introduce their names.

The only true friend Pip has met is Herbert, and Pip feels that he is betraying even that relationship by living the high life with a man who cannot afford it.

The chapter reinforces what the reader already knows about Pip: He has chosen a lifestyle which alienates himself from the people he loves, and even alienates him from his true self.

Part II: Chapter 16:

Pip returns home to attend the funeral -- which turns out to be a ridiculous affair put on by Trabb the tailor and made worse by the pompous Pumblechook and the foolish Hubbles.

Later, however, Joe and Pip sit comfortably by the fire like times of old. Pip finds out that before she died, his sister put her head on Joe and said, "Joe... Pardon... Pip."

Later, Biddy and Pip go for a walk and Pip asks what she will do now. She tells him she is going to open her own school. Biddy insinuates that Pip will not be returning soon as he promises. Pip leaves insulted.


As Joe predicted, the environment of the forge was a better environment for an honest relationship between he and Pip. Joe is much more comfortable with Pip in the comfort of his own home, smoking his pipe by the fire.

Discomfort continues, however, between Pip and Biddy. Biddy's honest evaluations of Pip are the cause of this discomfort. It is like talking to his own conscience. Biddy seems to be able to see right through Pip, as when she predicts that he will not be back too often, while at the same time she seems to sympathize with his position. Biddy's relationship with Pip appears as a contrast to Estella's relationship with him. In the former, Pip is loved by a woman who knows him better than anyone, both his strength and his failings. In the latter, Pip is a mere play thing to a woman who apparently, and admittedly, has been conditioned not to love.

Part II: Chapter 17:

Pip "comes of age," that is, turns twenty one, and hopes that his benefactor will present her/himself. His hopes seem to be on the mark when Jaggers makes an appointment with him for early that evening.

In fact, Jaggers reveals nothing about Pip's benefactor and tells him that he does not know when the benefactor will chose to reveal themselves. The only thing that has changed is that Pip is now in charge of his own stipend which is now set at five hundred pounds a year.

Jaggers then dines with Herbert and Pip at the Bernard Inn. After he leaves, Herbert echoes both he and Pip's thoughts: When they are in Jagger's presence, you always feel as though you've committed some outrageous crime that not even you yourself are aware of.


Once again, the irony of the title of the book is echoed in the events in Pip's life. Expectations, great or small, will be crushed. Pip expects his benefactor -- whom he continues to believe is Miss Havisham -- will reveal themselves on his birthday. Though Herbert's twenty-first birthday was only a few months ago, it was not anticipated or celebrated with as much anxiousness as Pip's -- because of the great expectations which preceded it.

The motif of expectations crushed is paralleled with the continuing theme of guilt and shame in Pip's life. Herbert and Pip both share in a rather humorous feeling that any conversation with Jaggers makes you feel like your hiding something, but in Pip's case, he has felt like he is hiding something for most of his life.

Part II: Chapter 18:

Pip goes to Wemmick's castle for dinner and is introduced to Miss Skiffins (whose face, like Wemmick's, also looks like a post office box). Pip asks Wemmick for advice on how to give anonymously give Herbert some of his yearly stipend (one hundred pounds a year).

With help from Miss Skiffins' brother, who is in finance, Wemmick and Pip put together a plan whereby Herbert will be given a job with a young merchant.


The distinction between how we treat people in the public arena versus how we treat them in private is made stark clear by Wemmick's initial reaction in the previous chapter when Pip first approaches him about helping Herbert. Pip spoke with him in Jaggers' office, where Wemmick told him that giving money to help a friend is like throwing money into the Thames. When Pip approaches him about the same subject in his own home, Wemmick tells him that the gesture is "devilish good" of him. Wemmick demonstrates that not only does society force us to act a certain way, in a great part against our nature, it also forces us to denigrate our fellow humans to the level of positive or negative investments. The narrator certainly doesn't fault Wemmick for this, but Young Pip is being given clear lessons about life in the city.

Part II: Chapter 19:

Pip dedicates a chapter, thin as it is, to his relationship with Estella while he lives in the city and she lives in Hammersmith. "I suffered every kind and degree of torture that Estella could cause me," he says.

On a number of occasions, he accompanies Estella on her frequent visits to Miss Havisham. In his presence, Miss Havisham demands to hear of all the hearts that Estella has broken, complete with names and details.

Pip blindly interprets this as meaning that after Estella has wreaked appropriate revenge on the male gender, the two of them will be given to each other by Miss Havisham as a reward.

Miss Havisham's concentrated effort to raise a child who can feel no love comes back to work against her, however, as Pip witnesses an argument between them. Miss Havisham, an older woman from when Pip first met her, has moments when she needs to be loved and appreciated. Unfortunately, Estella is incapable of love and cannot, therefore, give affection to even her adoptive mother. Miss Havisham did her job too well.

While fraternizing with his men's club, "the Finches of the Grove," Pip finds out that Drummle has begun courting Estella. Despite knowing how Estella treats men, Pip is miserably upset that Estella has begun seeing the most repulsive of Pip's acquaintances.


Though Pip continues to dream of Miss Havisham revealing herself as his benefactor and, as well, revealing her plan of bringing he and Estella to live together in perfect domestic bliss, he admits that he "...never had one hour of happiness in her (Estella's) society..."

The torture that Pip feels, however, may in a great part be the torture that he brings on himself. Estella tells him that of all the men that she toys with, and of all the hearts that she breaks, she has never deceived or entrapped Pip.

Part II: Chapter 20:

Pip has his twenty-third birthday and seems to be doing very little with his life. He no longer is tutored by Mr. Pocket, though they remain on good terms. He tries a few occupations, but doesn't stick to any of them. Instead, he finds that he is spending a lot of time reading.

A rough sea-worn man of sixty comes to Pip's home on a stormy night. Pip invites him in, treats him with courteous disdain, but then begins to recognize him as the convict that he fed in the marshes when he was a child.

The man reveals that he is Pip's benefactor. He has been living in Australia all these years and making money as a sheep herder. But since the day that Pip helped him, he swore to himself that every cent he earned would go to Pip.

"I've made a gentleman out of you," the man exclaims. Pip is horrified. All of his expectations are demolished. He has been living his life off the hard workings of a convict. There is no grand design by Miss Havisham to make Pip happy and rich, living in harmonious marriage to Estella.

The convict tells Pip that he has come back to see him under threat of his life, since the law will execute him if they find him in England. Pip gives the convict Herbert's empty bed, then sits by the fire by himself, pondering his miserable position.


The chapter closing the second part of the novel closes as well Pip's great expectations. The irony is that the convict lived his life for Pip, worked his fingers to the bone to make Pip a gentleman. He did this based on the true act of kindness that Pip demonstrated when he gave the convict wittles to eat in the marshes. ("You acted noble, my boy. Noble Pip!") With all of his money and education, however, Pip has become much less of a noble "gentleman" than when he was a child. Pip has become less prone to kind acts than when he was a poor shivering orphan in a lonely courtyard. As seen by Pip's decaying relationship with his adoptive father Joe and his true friend Biddy, but most strongly by his horrified reaction to his benefactor in this chapter, Pip has become an unkind, ungenerous, pompous ass.

Considering his situation, Pip first becomes angry at Miss Havisham, who used him and deliberately led her relatives and himself into believing that he was destined for her fortune. But his anger soon turns to himself, when he realizes how badly he treated Biddy and Joe, his true friends. He saw Joe as common and low class when all the time he was being supported by the lowest of the classes, a convict.

Although Pip learns that his expectations were all a sham and he realizes that he has mistreated Biddy and Joe, he is still basing his thoughts on the class system, society's ideas of "gentleman " and "common." Although Pip's future seems to have changed, internally he still has not learned that the hierarchy of the class system says nothing about the nobleness of a person or how to lead a happy life. Indeed, he thinks he is ruined because he now associates himself with a convict, even though the convict has shown him nothing but kindness. He doesn't know what crime the convict committed, he only classifies him as less than common because of his label of "convict." Even his guilt about how he treated Joe is based on the fact that the money which brought him great expectations is somehow less pure than money from Miss Havisham . Yet the convict has shown Pip more generosity and care than Miss Havisham ever did: "Look'ee here, Pip. I'm your second father." Dicken's finishes this part with the line, "This is the end of the second stage of Pip's expectations."