Great Expectations | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Chapters 23–24

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapters 23–24 of Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations.

Great Expectations | Chapters 23–24 | Summary



Chapter 23

Pip meets Mr. Matthew Pocket, his tutor. Pip soon learns that Mrs. Pocket was raised with the expectation of marrying into nobility. She met Mr. Pocket when they were both young. Mr. Pocket had ambitions of becoming either a member of Parliament or a bishop. Because both positions satisfied Mrs. Pocket, she agreed to marry him. As things turned out, Mr. Pocket became neither one. Mrs. Pocket, though, acts as if she is nobility and should be treated as such.

Pip notices that Mr. and Mrs. Pocket allow their servants to run the household with little supervision. Although educated at Harrow and Cambridge, Mr. Pocket had to take a job as a grinder of blades to support Mrs. Pocket. Later he became a corrector of literary compilations and earned enough along with some private resources to support his household.

Pip also meets his two fellow students, Bentley Drummle and Startop. Drummle is "the next heir but one to a baronetcy." Because of this, Drummle takes a superior attitude toward everyone in the household except Mrs. Pocket, with whom he feels an alliance. Mr. Pocket constantly feels frustrated by his wife's obliviousness and shows his anxiety by pulling at his hair. Mrs. Pocket displays no ability to take care of her children. Also she gets insulted by servants and children treating her with "disrespect."

Chapter 24

Pip is educated not for any profession, but instead to hold his own as a gentleman. Mr. Pocket's friendly, enthusiastic attitude as a teacher inspires Pip to become an enthusiastic student. Pip decides to stay with Herbert at Barnard's Inn and goes to Mr. Jaggers to get money to buy furniture.

After intensive questioning by Jaggers, Pip decides he needs the sum of 20 pounds, which is provided. Jaggers then leaves, and Mr. Wemmick gives Pip a tour of Jaggers's office building. Pip asks about the two casts hanging on the wall in Jaggers's office. Wemmick explains that each cast was taken of a man after he was hanged for a crime. After this the clerk leads Pip to a police court. There Pip observes Mr. Jaggers dominating the courtroom with his cross-examinations, making everyone cower under his presence, including the presiding judge.


Dickens further explores the theme of social class and ambition in Chapters 23 and 24. In Chapter 23 as in previous chapters, the author depicts members of the middle class through the use of satire. Mrs. Pocket is shown as a ridiculous person who had ambitions of becoming nobility. Although these designs have been frustrated, she still insists on being treated as a noble and takes offense at anyone who poses the slightest threat to this artifice. Bentley Drummle is a character who actually could become a baron. Fully realizing this, Drummle treats everyone in Mr. Pocket's household, except for Mrs. Pocket, as an inferior. Therefore Mrs. Pocket and Bentley Drummle are two examples of people who see more value in social standing than in true friendship. What matters to these people is feeling superior to other people. As a result they are obsessed with becoming upper class. Pip himself falls into this group. After all he is being trained to hold his own as a gentleman. This plan fits Pip's purpose because he is obsessed with becoming a member of the upper class to gain the approval of Miss Havisham and Estella.

Dickens also develops the theme of social class by showing in detail Mr. Jaggers's law office. As a successful lawyer, Mr. Jaggers is obsessed with maintaining a position of superiority and control over his lower-class clients. Indeed he treats his clients like trophies to be won and displayed. For example, Jaggers has casts of his two most celebrated clients displayed like awards on his office wall.

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