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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



Escape and conclusion

(Chapters 52 to 59


Pip concludes with Clarriker the transaction for Herbert’s business. Herbert will be leaving for Egypt soon and Pip now sees his life as a wealthy man drawing to a close. 

Wemmick now gives the go-ahead for Magwitch to leave England, but because of Pip’s injuries, he is unable to row, so they recruit Startop who is a loyal friend.

When Pip returns to his home, he finds a note asking him to come to the sluice house on the marshes in order to receive some important information about his Uncle Provis.  Pip decides to go in order to ensure Magwitch’s safety, and on the way he checks in on Miss Havisham to see how she is faring. At the inn during dinner, he hears the innkeeper talking about Pumblechook and how he has been boasting about making a young man become wealthy.  Pip is again filled with guilt, having spurned the true friendship offered to him by Joe and Biddy. He then makes his way to the sluice house and just as he approaches, a drunken Orlick attacks him from behind. Orlick blames Pip for all his misfortunes, the loss of his job, and the loss of Biddy. Orlick intends to kill Pip and hide his body in the limekiln, but he wants to toy with him before carrying out the deed.  He confesses to attacking Mrs. Joe, and to hiding on the stairs at Pip’s flat.  He is working for Compeyson, who has told him all about Magwitch.  Pip is full of remorse, but his main thought is that he will not have the chance to apologize to Joe and Biddy. Just then Pip is rescued by Herbert, Startop and the Trabb’s’ boy who had guided them to the sluice house.  Orlick escapes.

They rush back to London to prepare for the escape, which will take place on the next day. They make their way downriver to meet with a steamer, but Customs agents and Compeyson, who is there to identify Magwitch, intercept them.  The two convicts struggle and one of the boats capsizes.  They fall into the water with the steamer heading towards them. Compeyson is drowned.  Magwitch is arrested and Pip stays with him while Herbert and Startop return to London.

Pip now only feels compassion for Magwitch, any repugnance that he had, is now gone.

With Magwitch’s arrest, all of his money will be forfeit to the crown, but Pip keeps this a secret from Magwitch.

Jaggers is annoyed that Magwitch’s money has slipped through Pip’s fingers, but he will endeavor to salvage something.

Herbert receives word that he must leave for Egypt immediately and although Pip is happy for his friend, he is apprehensive about his own future.  Herbert says that there is always a job for him with his firm, if he wishes one. 

Wemmick is also upset at the loss of so much portable property.  Pip tells him that he is more concerned for the owner of that property.  Wemmick tells Pip that he is taking a holiday on Monday and asks Pip if he would visit. Pip agrees.  When Pip arrives, he discovers Wemmick carrying a fishing pole and they go for a walk. They end up at a church where everything is made ready for a wedding and then Wemmick produces a ring and asks Pip to be his best man in his marriage to Miss Skiffins.

Pip spends the remainder of his time with Magwitch, whose health continues to decline.  His trial is quick, and he is condemned to die, and Magwitch thanks Pip for his loyalty. Before the sentence of the court can be carried out, Magwitch dies, but just before this happens, Pip whispers to him that his daughter, who he thought was dead, is alive, has become a lady and that Pip loves her. Magwitch smiles and dies in peace.

Pip then collapses.  He has been ill for some time and has debt collectors pursuing him.  He eventually comes to, to find Joe caring for him. Biddy had told Joe to go to Pip’s bedside to ensure he made a full recovery. Joe can now write, Biddy has taught him well.

Pip also learns that Miss Havisham has since died. She has left '4,000 to Matthew Pocket due to Pip’s recommendation.

Orlick has also been arrested after trying to break into Pumblechook’s house.

Pip tries to tell Joe about Magwitch, but Joe cuts him off, saying that there is nothing to discuss regarding the convict.

Joe clears Pip’s debts and he returns home as Pip has recovered.

A few days later, Pip decides to return home to be with Biddy and Joe. He has a mind to ask Biddy to marry him. When he arrives at the forge, he finds it empty and then discovers that Joe and Biddy have just been married. Pip is relieved that he never told Joe of his intention to ask Biddy to marry him.  Biddy and Joe are excited to see him and Pip tells them that he intends to join Herbert in Egypt.

In Egypt, Pip lives with Herbert and Clara and eventually pays off his debt to Joe leading a frugal life.  Pip becomes a partner in the business, at which point Clarriker tells Herbert how Pip secretly got him started in the business.

Eleven years pass, and Pip returns to find Joe and Biddy happy with a daughter, and a son who they have called Pip. 

Herbert has been urging Pip to marry, and Biddy and Joe do the same, but he says he is a content bachelor and set in his ways.

He decides to walk to Satis House and there he comes across the solitary figure of Estella. She tells Pip that she has thought of him much lately and that she hopes they can still be friends.  Pip tells her they are friends and observes to him that he saw ‘the shadow of no parting from her’.



The character of Pip has grown in maturity and unselfishness in these chapters.  He has changed from a snobbish, cowardly, self-centered individual into a caring and well-balanced man.

His dangerous trip to the marshes was motivated purely out of concern for Magwitch’s safety. He sees well in the actions of Magwitch, which have highlighted his own failings. During the escape, Magwitch remains calm.  He is used to flirting with danger and faces dangerous situations straight on. Although Magwitch’s life was a personal failure, the product of his efforts, Pip, gives him satisfaction, and in his dying minutes to learn that he has a daughter who is a lady, means he can rest in peace.  Magwitch had made the observation that Pip was more comfortable with him as a condemned man than when he was free.  It is clear that Pip’s concern is genuine and he has no reservations about being close to criminal elements. Magwitch treasures Pip’s loyalty as he dies.

Pip breaks down at this point due to poor health and financial pressures.  It is, of course, Joe who comes to his bedside prompted by Biddy in order to nurse him back to health. The two are able to lie to rest some ghosts that have haunted their relationship.  Joe feels guilt at not protecting Pip against the harsh treatment from Mrs. Joe and Pip is guilty over the lies he told in concealing the convict on the marshes. Joe also advises Pip that Miss Havisham was generous to Matthew Pocket due to Pip’s good words for him.

As for the rest of Miss Havisham’s parasitical relatives, Dickens again brings in some humor regarding Miss Havisham’s bequests, which were enough money to Sarah Pocket for her to purchase pills for being bilious; and enough money to Camilla to buy lights for when she sits up at night worrying about everybody else.

Dickens also brings in humor regarding Orlick’s burglary on Pumblechook’s house, where he took his till, took his cash box, drank his wine, ate his food, and then stuffed Pumblechook’s mouth full of flowering annuals, this being the only time in the book when Pumblechook was silent.

Pip started the story as the hero and ends up the same, his character having matured through all the trials and tribulations he has faced. Instead of being upset that Joe beat him to marrying Biddy, he feels relief that he had not mentioned his intentions in this regard. He also looks at the other characters in a new perspective, considering now that Herbert’s talents have contributed to his success, and that his initial comment that he would not fulfill his dream has been proved to be wrong.   

When Herbert is told about Pip setting him up in business, all the secrets have now been revealed, except for Estella’s parentage, which Pip will keep secret for the rest of his days.

Originally the story was to have ended with Estella marrying a doctor and Pip and Estella going their separate ways. This mirrors Dickens own life when he met his first love many years later and she was happily married. However, Dickens was persuaded to change the ending by a friend, giving the reader a chance for a happy ending.  Uncharacteristically for Dickens, he does leave the ending somewhat ambiguous. Does the quote ‘shadow of no parting’ mean that they do stay together?

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