Course Hero Logo

Great Expectations | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

Get the eBook on Amazon to study offline.

Buy on Amazon Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Great Expectations Study Guide." Course Hero. 27 Oct. 2016. Web. 3 June 2023. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2016, October 27). Great Expectations Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved June 3, 2023, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2016)



Course Hero. "Great Expectations Study Guide." October 27, 2016. Accessed June 3, 2023.


Course Hero, "Great Expectations Study Guide," October 27, 2016, accessed June 3, 2023,

Chapters 21–22

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapters 21–22 of Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations.

Great Expectations | Chapters 21–22 | Summary



Chapter 21

Wemmick leads Pip to his lodgings at Barnard's Inn. Instead of being a hotel, Barnard's Inn proves to be collection of shabby buildings surrounding a dismal little courtyard. Expecting something grander, Pip is disappointed. Wemmick takes Pip to his apartment, where a note on the mailbox states "Return shortly." Wemmick leaves, and Pip waits for his roommate, Mr. Pocket Jr., who, when he arrives, is carrying two paper bags and a container of strawberries. He and Pip greet each other, and they enter the apartment. Soon Pocket recognizes Pip as the "prowling boy," and Pip recognizes Pocket as the "pale young gentleman" he fought at Satis House years before.

Chapter 22

Pip and Mr. Pocket Jr. express amazement at meeting each other after so many years. Herbert Pocket (as he is called) explains that he was taken to Miss Havisham as a possible suitor for Estella. However, Miss Havisham rejected Herbert, which was fine with him because he didn't like Estella. Also Pocket confirms that Mr. Jaggers is Miss Havisham's lawyer and confidant. Pip likes Herbert's honest, easy manner. Pip shares how he came to know Miss Havisham and Estella.

During dinner Herbert reveals the backstory of Miss Havisham. She was raised as a spoiled child by a wealthy brewer. The brewer also had a child by a woman who was not Miss Havisham's mother. This half-brother grew up wild and rebellious. After the father died, Miss Havisham received most of the inheritance and the half-brother received a small fortune. Soon a man courted and won over Miss Havisham, who idolized him. He convinced Miss Havisham to buy out her brother's share of the brewery for a large sum. On the day of the wedding, the man sent Miss Havisham a letter saying he would not marry her. After she read the letter, Miss Havisham stopped all the clocks in her house and became a recluse. She learned her suitor and her half-brother had devised a plan to get her money and jilt her at her wedding. Herbert's father, Matthew Pocket, is a cousin of Miss Havisham. He warned her about the suitor, which made her angry. She ordered him out of the house, and since then Matthew has never visited Miss Havisham.

Herbert shares his goal of becoming an insurer of ships. Currently he is looking around for an opportunity. Although Pip likes Herbert very much, he believes his friend will never be very successful. Herbert works in a counting house, where he receives a small salary. On Monday morning Herbert escorts Pip to his father's house. There Pip meets Mrs. Matthew Pocket, two maids, and many children tumbling about. Mrs. Pocket has a remote, refined air. She reads a book and does little to help take care of the children.


In Chapters 21 and 22 Dickens continues to explore the theme of social class and ambition. The author reveals that, although Pip will be educated as a gentleman, his current living conditions are somewhat disappointing. Pip no doubt expects to dwell in a well-maintained lodging. However, Pip describes his lodging, Barnard's Inn, as a collection of shabby dwellings surrounding a "melancholy little square that looked to me like a flat burying-ground." In a way this rundown building resembles the decaying Satis House. Similar to how Satis House represents Miss Havisham's warped views, Barnard's Inn reflects the shabby social ambitions of Pip. This rundown inn, though, does not dissuade Pip from wanting to learn the manners of an upper-class gentleman. As a result during dinner, Pip has Herbert correct his coarse eating habits. Herbert proves to be a friendly and obliging tutor.

Dickens also shows that not all members of the middle class have the same type of ambition. For instance, Herbert wants to become an insurer of ships. Even though Herbert is sincere about his ambition, he has an easygoing attitude concerning it. For Herbert, obtaining his goal involves casually "looking about me." For this reason Pip senses that Herbert will probably never be very successful. In contrast Pip's ambitions are more intense, almost desperate.

In Chapter 22 Dickens focuses on the theme of uncertainty and deceit by clearing up Pip's confusion about Miss Havisham and the way she lives. By explaining how Miss Havisham had her heart broken, Herbert provides motives for her behavior. Pip now understands that Miss Havisham has groomed Estella to break men's hearts, including his own. Therefore Miss Havisham's deception about why she had Pip come to her house is exposed. Even so Pip remains blinded by his desire to win Estella. Also he still is unclear about many things. He still does not know how Estella came under Miss Havisham's care. Pip also still believes that Miss Havisham is his benefactress.

In addition Dickens shows that Pip is still gnawed by guilt concerning his ungratefulness about his upbringing. Pip states, "Yet in the London streets ... there were depressing hints of reproaches for that I had put the poor old kitchen at home so far away."

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Great Expectations? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!