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Great Expectations


The Author
Chapters 1-6
Chapters 7-12
Chapters 13-17
Chapters 18-19
Chapters 20-24
Chapters 25-28
Chapters 29-39
Chapters 40-45
Chapters 46-51
Chapters 52-59




(Chapters 13 – 17)


Mrs. Joe decides that she will accompany Joe and Pip when they visit Miss Havisham and she will stay at Pumblechook’s house. The uncomfortable-looking Joe dressed in his Sunday suit looks ridiculous while he waits on Miss Havisham at Satis House.  Pip is embarrassed at Joe’s appearance and notices Estella laughing at his conduct.  Miss Havisham provides a substantial premium to Joe for Pip’s apprenticeship saying that he has been a good playmate for Estella. Joe brings the '25 back to Mrs. Joe who is at Pumblechook’s house. Joe is wise enough to say that Miss Havisham sends her regards to Mrs. Joe and this seems to soothe her mood.  The amount of money is a tidy sum for these times, and Pumblechook immediately takes them to the court to have Pip bound. Pip feels like a criminal as he is dragged along to the court. He feels that his life has now been tied firmly to the forge and he feels that it is like a prison sentence.

His worst fear is that Estella might see him one day working in the forge with a blackened face and coarse hands.  He is now too old to attend the evening school and must teach himself from books.  He still intends to help Joe with his learning.

Some time later, Pip asks for a day’s holiday from the forge to go and thank Miss Havisham for the sponsorship, this being an excuse to see Estella again. Joe thinks this is a bad idea, but allows him to go.

Orlick, who is a journeyman in the forge, is extremely jealous of Pip, and he too asks for time off, but Mrs. Joe refuses this request. Orlick is abusive and insults Mrs. Joe who insists that Joe should fight Orlick in order to defend her honor. Joe beats Orlick and then the two make amends for the quarrel in the inn later on that evening.

At Miss Havisham’s, Pip’s visit turns into a disaster. Estella is in Paris and Miss Havisham taunts Pip by saying that he has lost her forever. She dismisses Pip and requests that he does not return until his birthday, if he wishes. 

On his return home, he hears that his sister has been attacked and is seriously ill.

The police investigate the attack on Mrs. Joe. The only evidence they have is that the weapon used was a set of rusted convict leg irons and she was hit over the head whilst facing the fireplace. She has survived the attack, but now requires constant care.

Joe, Pip and Orlick all seem to have alibis.

Mrs. Joe continually makes a signal, which is the letter ‘T’.  Biddy is the only one to establish this and she ends up caring up for Mrs. Joe. Biddy determines that the signal is meant to represent a hammer and that she is asking for Orlick.

Pip’s continual self-education has made him vain and he is very contemptuous of Biddy. He considers her to be pleasant and sweet-tempered, but not very beautiful.  He tells her that he wants to become a gentleman and to win Estella. Biddy points out that Estella has been treating him cruelly and that she is not worth having.  One senses that Biddy has feelings for Pip, but she realizes that they can never be a couple.

Orlick also is interested in Biddy and Pip is jealous of this, although he does not want her, nobody else is to have her, and he does his best to frustrate Orlick’s advances.



Relationships between the main characters intensify during these chapters.

We have the contrasts of black and white with Joe and Biddy on one side and Mrs. Joe and Orlick on the other with Pip someplace between the two, in limbo.

Goaded by his enraged wife, Joe is cornered into a fight with Orlick in order to defend her position in the forge. The whole situation has murderous undertones, and the result is the attack on Mrs. Joe later that day. Orlick is a deprived member of society and has little self- esteem.  The insults he receives from Mrs. Joe merely add fuel to his built up anger. Although many locals find Mrs. Joe’s behavior as that of a bully, none do anything about it, except perhaps Orlick, on this occasion.

Joe instinctively knows that Pip’s visit to Miss Havisham will be a mistake, but he does not stand in his way.  Pip, however, does not see the folly of his visit. Pip feels guilty that he was ashamed of Joe when they visited Miss Havisham’s house earlier to arrange his apprenticeship. He hopes to see Estella, but he also wants to impress on Miss Havisham that he will rise above the forge because he is determined to better himself in order to be worthy of Estella’s affection.

Pip is very much like Dickens in that he is determined to teach himself through the reading of books.  In this way he hopes to become less coarse.  This is the only way that he can escape from the prison of the forge. In his heart, Pip knows that pursuing Estella is wrong, but he cannot let go, despite Biddy trying to make him see the reality of his situation. Pip has become a snob and he is so enthralled by Estella that he fails to see what a good person Biddy is. He may be educated, but he is totally ignorant concerning relationships with other people.  He seems to delight in undermining Biddy’s position.  Pip wants everything. He desires Estella, but wishes he could love Biddy. He is in turmoil at this stage of the story.

Guilt returns concerning his young childhood when he discovers that the weapon used in the attack on Mrs. Joe was the leg irons that his convict had filed off years earlier.

The reader has received clear hints that Orlick was Mrs. Joe’s attacker and Biddy is the only character to come close to making the connection.

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