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

CHAPTER 49

Summary

Miss Havisham agrees to extend financial help to Herbert on Pip's request. She seems kinder, almost warm. She wants Pip's forgiveness for all she has done and she wants to show him she is not a heartless old woman. Pip asks about Estella and has his suspicions confirmed by the news that Jaggers brought Estella to Satis House when the child was barely two or three years old.

Pip goes for a walk to clear his head. When he returns, he sees Miss Havisham and her old faded wedding dress go up in flames. Pip rushes to save her, and once again she begs him to forgive her. The doctor arrives and the badly burnt Miss Havisham is lain on the table where her cake sits. The doctor says that although she has been badly burnt, the greatest danger to her life is the terrible shock. Pip is burnt as well, and he kisses the old lady good-bye and goes off in search of Herbert.


Notes

This part of the novel advances the theme that no matter how one conducts oneself in life, one's good nature always asserts itself at the end. Miss Havisham--after having manipulated Estella's life, encouraging false illusions in Pip, and using Pip as an instrument to make her relatives envious--realizes her mistakes and feels remorseful. She begs Pip for forgiveness with a broken heart. Here, Pip sees a different Miss Havisham than he has ever known--a tenderhearted woman who genuinely wishes to help Pip and Herbert and earn forgiveness. She also realizes that Estella and Pip should have been together and that because of her bitter heart Estella was brought up to spite Pip. Miss Havisham holds herself responsible for separating Pip and Estella and making their lives miserable.

CHAPTERS 50 - 51

Summary

Pip receives severe burns in the attempts to save Miss Havisham, and Herbert nurses his wounds. Herbert tells Pip that he has learned more about Magwitch. From what he tells Pip, Pip realizes Magwitch's wife is Molly and his daughter is Estella.

Pip goes to Jaggers to collect the money for Herbert's career and tells Jaggers what he has learned. Jaggers tells Pip this news is better if it is kept secret. He says Estella was the one child through the years whom he could save from the criminal world.

Notes

From this point on, the novel is winding down, tying up loose ends and closing certain mysteries. Pip makes a fascinating deduction about Estella, but he loves her too much to reveal anything that would ruin her life. For him it is merely an exercise in learning more about the young woman.

CHAPTER 52

Summary

Two notes arrive for Pip. The first is from Wemmick, telling Pip that despite his burns, Magwitch's escape must be attempted the following week. The second is anonymous, but promises to reveal information about Uncle Provis if Pip will come to the sluice house near the marshes alone.

Notes

Pip's worth as a human being seems clear in this chapter. He has followed through on Herbert's career, making certain his good friend is well provided for. And he has been a loyal protector for his benefactor, despite his own feelings about the whole ordeal. He is redeeming himself by these little things he does.

CHAPTER 53

Summary

The second note is part of a trick, and as soon as Pip enters, he is hit and bound by Orlick, who plans to revenge himself against Pip. Orlick holds Pip responsible for Biddy's dislike of him and for being fired by Jaggers. He admits it was he who attacked Mrs. Joe, Pip's sister, years ago. And it was he who spied on Pip the night Magwitch arrived. He reveals he is working with Compeyson. Just as Pip is about to be injured, he is rescued by the arrival of Herbert, Startop and Trabb's boy, who had followed him to the marshes. Orlick flees and Pip returns to London to help Magwitch escape.

Notes

Another great Dickensian coincidence takes place in this chapter, in which Pip leaves the note at home and Herbert realizes something is suspect. Orlick is revealed as the villain he is, and the mystery of Mrs. Joe's attack is cleared up at last.

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