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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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CHAPTERS 30 & 31

If we felt sorry for Pip at Miss Havisham's, his behavior the
next morning strains our sympathy. First he pompously tells
Jaggers that Orlick is unsuitable to work at Satis House; next,
like a coward he circles miles to avoid Pumblechook. He's
pleased, however, by the flattery of the tradesmen he meets. It's
fitting that Trabb's boy should parade down the street behind
Pip, outrageously imitating his haughty airs. As Dickens
describes this wonderful play-acting, we're more in tune with
Trabb's boy-lively, agile, and a shrewd observer-than with
Pip. Of course Pip's mortified-wouldn't you be?- but listen to
his prissy, offended reaction. This is exactly the attitude
Trabb's boy is mocking.

In this parody, we see how others see Pip-and add this to our
opinion of him. Pip's conversation with Herbert back in
London is more realistic, but it still shows him in a harsh light.
Pip dramatically confesses to Herbert that he loves Estella,
only to find that Herbert has seen through him long ago.
Herbert is supportive, and never mentions his opinion of
Estella (remember what he said about her in chapter 22?). He
tries to buck up Pip's spirits by telling him what a great guy he

"a good fellow, with impetuosity and hesitation, boldness and
diffidence, action and dreaming, curiously mixed in him." Do
you think this is a fair summary of Pip? Herbert should be a
good judge, but we also know Pip's inner nature, as Herbert
does not. We must put all these views together to know Pip.

Even optimistic Herbert is skeptical about Pip's hopes to marry
Estella. He makes Pip see that Jaggers has never mentioned
marriage as part of Pip's expectations. Like Biddy in chapter
17, Herbert probes Pip's feelings, kindly and yet severely. Can
Pip possibly give up on Estella? Pip doesn't answer, but a
stubborn rush of memory and feeling besets him at the thought.
As Herbert shrewdly says, Pip is a boy "whom nature and
circumstances made so romantic"; realistic Herbert tries to
make Pip see Estella as she is, but, as we know, Pip clings
obstinately to Estella.

One more mark against Pip: whereas Pip's secret love was
obvious, Herbert has been hiding a fiancee from Pip. Perhaps
Pip is too wrapped up in his own life to notice those around
him. Herbert's situation is the opposite of Pip's; he has Clara's
heart, but not enough money to marry. (Dickens himself once
was young, poor, and desperate to get married.)

To console themselves, the two young men go out to the
theater. This chapter is a spell of broad satire, as Dickens
describes Wopsle's performance of Hamlet. Dickens' method is
to play dumb-reducing the stage illusions to bald, literal terms
(the King and Queen are sitting "in two arm-chairs on a kitchen
table", for instance). The audience isn't moved at all by this
production-you know the mood, if you've ever sat in a
crowded movie theater with an awful film going on. Pip and
Herbert feel sorry for Wopsle but they can't help laughing;
afterwards Pip invites Wopsle to dinner, trying to be
considerate. This evening of comic relief can't raise Pip's
spirits, however. Wopsle's Hamlet adds to our image of Pip, for
Pip has lately been playing a Prince too-and Trabb's boy
teased him for it as cruelly as this audience teased Wopsle.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes

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