Great Expectations | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Chapters 13–14

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapters 13–14 of Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations.

Great Expectations | Chapters 13–14 | Summary



Chapter 13

Mrs. Joe, Joe, and Pip walk to Pumblechook's shop, where Mrs. Joe stays. Joe and Pip continue on to Satis House. Estella leads them to the dressing room. In this room Joe meets Miss Havisham, who sits at her dressing table. Joe is so uncomfortable talking to the grand lady that he answers Miss Havisham's questions by addressing Pip. Miss Havisham asks Joe if Pip plans to be his apprentice and if Pip has any objection to this trade. Joe says that the boy has agreed to be his apprentice and has not expressed any objection to this. Pip is mortified by Joe's awkward manner. Miss Havisham declares that Pip has earned a premium by coming to her house to play and pays Joe 25 guineas, or pounds. Also Miss Havisham tells Joe not to expect any more money from her.

Estella leads Pip and a stunned Joe out of Satis House. At Pumblechook's place, Joe tells Mrs. Joe and Pumblechook that Miss Havisham has given 25 pounds to Mrs. Joe. They all go to the Justices in the Town Hall, where Pip is bound as an apprentice to Joe. When he gets back to his bedroom, Pip is convinced he will not like Joe's trade.

Chapter 14

Pip reveals the shame he feels about his home because Miss Havisham and Estella would view it as inferior. This sense of shame about something he once appreciated makes Pip miserable. Even though Pip once looked forward to being Joe's apprentice, he now feels ashamed about this work. When Pip views his life stretching before him as an apprentice, he feels that a "curtain dropped so heavy and blank." Pip believes that he works hard as an apprentice and does not run away because of Joe's virtuous example. However, he dreads the possibility of Estella coming to the forge and despising him with his "black face and hands, doing the coarsest part of my work."


In Chapters 13 and 14 Dickens develops the theme of social class and ambition by showing the effect of the upper class on working-class people. One of these effects is discomfort. For example, working-class Joe feels so awkward answering the questions of upper-class Miss Havisham that he doesn't even dare to look at her or talk to her directly. Also Pip's experience with the upper class makes him ashamed of his home and work, which is an uncomfortable feeling for him. Although he feels some guilt about his shame, Pip continues to see his life as an apprentice as being a paltry thing and yearns for the approval of Estella. The only reason he stays and works at the forge is because of Joe's good example. As the narrator says, "It was not because I was faithful, but because Joe was faithful, that I never ran away and went for a soldier or a sailor." Pip, though, continues to idolize Estella to such a degree that he is ashamed when he imagines her seeing him at the forge.

The upper class has a strong effect on members of the middle class by making them ambitious. The desire to get money from Miss Havisham overwhelms Mrs. Joe and Pumblechook. When she learns that Miss Havisham has paid her 25 pounds, Mrs. Joe becomes happier than at any other time in the novel. Although by nature a cheap person, she offers to buy dinner for her family and friends. Pumblechook's ambition assumes the form of taking credit for Miss Havisham's paying the money, even though he had nothing to do with it. Pumblechook probably figures that if he is seen as having engineered Pip's encounter with Miss Havisham he will receive some benefit as well. For Pip's part his ambition is ambiguous: "What I wanted, who can say? How can I say, when I never knew?" Pip just wants something more than what he has working as a blacksmith's apprentice. Indeed Pip now feels ashamed of this work.

The symbol of money makes an appearance in Chapter 13, at first representing the value of a person. Miss Havisham views Pip as a good boy and so pays 25 pounds to Joe. However, through Mrs. Joe's and Pumblechook's attitudes toward the money, the symbol changes from representing the value of a person to representing what is valued most in life. Mrs. Joe values improving her social standing and entering the middle class. Therefore she becomes ecstatic when she receives 25 pounds because her prospects of reaching a higher social class have improved. Pumblechook pretends he has orchestrated Pip's payment all along. For him, the 25 pounds enables him to display the importance of his social standing.

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