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Free Study Guide-Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Free BookNotes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTERS 34 - 35

Summary

Pip's great expectations and luxurious lifestyle has begun to cause both he and Herbert considerable financial strain. Soon, the news of Mrs. Joe's death arrives. Pip returns to his childhood home only to find that Joe's house has been taken over by the tailor, Mr. Trabb. Joe is broken-hearted and Biddy calls Pip "Mr. Pip." After the funeral, Pip tells Biddy he will visit more often, but she is skeptical. Pip is troubled by pleasant memories of his past and by the way he seems to have neglected his home and friends. He does not even mourn Mrs. Joe. The subtle changes in him over the years seem obvious to everyone but himself. He realizes Biddy has no faith in him and knows that her lack is probably justified; he loves Estella too much to risk her displeasure.

Notes

This chapter poignantly characterizes the depth and constancy of Joe and Biddy's love for Pip. He returns for the funeral and stays at the Blue Boar. He tries to make them (and himself) believe that he will come to visit more often, but they know he will not. Still, their love for him is strong. Pip is troubled by his own shortcomings in response to their love, but he is so caught up in his expectations, he does not know how to deal with his own downfall. Pip's growing debt is a dramatic strategy that serves to create suspense and dread. He is headed for a great fall, economically and emotionally.


CHAPTER 36

Summary

On Pip's twenty-first birthday he is called to Mr. Jaggers' office and given five hundred pounds. Jaggers tells Pip he will receive that amount annually from this point on until a time when his benefactor chooses to be revealed. Pip will be responsible for managing his own money.

Notes

The five hundred pounds come as a great relief to Pip, whose debt has become of grave concern. However, he had expected the birthday visit to reveal that he might be allowed to marry Estella, whom he continues to believe is being set aside for marriage to him. He still believes Miss Havisham to be his bountiful patron.

He is sure that her generosity has a lot to do with her plans for he and Estella.

CHAPTER 37

Summary

Pip approaches Wemmick with his plans to help Herbert succeed in business. Wemmick assists Pip by calling on Clarriker, a young shipping merchant, and giving him money to hire Herbert. Clarriker gives Herbert employment as well as the promise of the bright future he has always dreamed of. As well, he promises to keep Pip's involvement in the whole affair a secret. Pip is very happy that he has at last been able to do something good for somebody with his new station in life.

Notes

Though in the previous chapters, Pip's snobbery and selfishness gets the better of him, this chapter reestablishes Pip's unselfish and once-generous nature when he helps Herbert. Pip's maturity is evident when he asks his identity to be kept secret. He knows that Herbert's dignity would be hurt if Pip gave him financial help. It is the only good thing that comes of Pip's new position.

CHAPTER 38

Summary

Pip accompanies Estella on a visit to Satis house. Much to Pip's surprise, Miss Havisham and Estella quarrel. Miss Havisham is troubled by Estella's lack of devotion toward her, but Estella retorts that Miss Havisham has made her cold and unfeeling. Pip knows Estella has been trained to break his heart, but he feels compelled to continue in his obsessive admiration of her.

Pip and Drummle are members of a prestigious and snobbish men's club called "The Finches of the Grove." In one meeting, much to Pip's horror and outrage, Drummle, the Spider, proposes a toast to Estella. The two fight and Drummle shows Pip Estella's note confirming her favors for him. Pip is devastated.

Notes

The meeting between Miss. Havisham and Estella is crucially important. Miss Havisham has obsessively raised Estella to wreak havoc in the lives of men. She has trained her beautiful young charge to toy with and destroy men by making them love her with no hope of reciprocation. But Miss Havisham makes a mistake when she asks that Estella love her. Miss Havisham becomes the victim of the sharp weapon that she has created to hurt others. Estella is brought up without love and Miss Havisham's demand for love can never be met.

Pip is close to realizing his dreams are futile when he sees Drummle, of all men, proposing a toast to Estella. What is worse is that Estella encourages this. Pip and Estella have a conversation in which she warns him that she is out to entrap and deceive men, and does not mind doing so to Drummle. She tells Pip she has never victimized him because he does not understand the way things are. He is naïve. Estella confesses that Pip is the only man whom she has not tried to injure and deceive. Ironically, he is most injured of all, despite her warnings.

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