Great Expectations | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Great Expectations | Chapters 29–30 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 29

On his way to Miss Havisham's, Pip daydreams about Estella being chosen for him and rescuing her from Satis House. Pip loves Estella even though he realizes he loves her against reason, against hope, and against happiness. Pip arrives at Satis House and is surprised when Orlick opens the gate. Orlick has quit his work for Joe and has taken a job as gatekeeper for Miss Havisham.

Pip enters the dressing room, where he sees Miss Havisham seated by her dressing table as well as an elegant lady. The lady is Estella, who has grown into a beautiful woman. Estella's transformation stuns Pip. She admits that Pip has also changed. Miss Havisham greedily watches the two of them. Pip and Estella walk in the garden and talk about old times. Pip asks if Estella remembers when she made him cry. She doesn't recall the occasion, which hurts Pip. Then Estella admits she has no heart, meaning she has no sympathy or sentiment. Pip refuses to believe her. Estella reminds Pip of someone, but he can't think of whom. Estella and Pip walk to the room with the wedding cake covered by cobwebs. Pip pushes Miss Havisham in her wheelchair around the table. After Estella leaves the room, Miss Havisham repeatedly tells Pip to love Estella.

Mr. Jaggers enters the room. Pip and Jaggers head to a dining room and eat dinner with Estella and Miss Sarah Pocket. Later an arrangement is made for Estella to travel to London, where Pip will meet her at the coach. Pip and Jaggers leave Satis House. As Pip lies in bed at the Blue Boar, he repeats to himself, "I love her, I love her, I love her!"

Chapter 30

Pip informs Jaggers that Orlick is not suitable to hold the position of gatekeeper for Miss Havisham. Mr. Jaggers says he'll buy the man off. To avoid meeting Pumblechook, Pip leaves the Blue Boar after breakfast and walks on the road toward London. The coach will pick him up. When Pip arrives in London, he sends a codfish and a barrel of oysters to Joe to make up for not staying with him.

Pip talks to Herbert about his love for Estella. Not surprised by Pip's infatuation, Herbert wonders if Estella feels the same way. Pip laments that Estella remains emotionally distant. Pip also admits to being uncertain about his social position because his expectations are vague. Herbert assures Pip that if Mr. Jaggers is involved with Pip's expectations then he will receive a healthy fortune. Based on the strangeness of Miss Havisham and her influence on Estella, Herbert asks if Pip could possibly detach himself from Estella. Pip says, "No. Impossible!" Herbert then reveals his love for a woman named Clara, whom he cannot marry until he begins to earn a healthy income.

Analysis

In Chapters 29 and 30 Dickens develops the theme of social class and ambition through Pip's romantic dream of attaining Estella. He daydreams about restoring Satis House to its former glory and marrying Estella, like a knight rescuing a princess in a romance. Pip realizes his lofty ambitions are not realistic. Pip says, "I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be."

Even though Pip now has the look and manners of a gentleman, he stills feels inferior to Estella. When he gazes at the adult Estella, he says that "I slipped hopelessly back into the coarse and common boy again." Pip cannot disassociate his love for Estella from ambition for money and gentility. Estella and being an upper-class gentleman are melded into a fixed aspiration that torments Pip.

Chapters 29 and 30 combine the theme of social class with the theme of uncertainty and deceit. First of all Pip feels uncertain about his social position. Herbert tries to assure Pip that the money-minded Mr. Jaggers would not be involved if Pip's expectations had a chance of not being fulfilled. Even so Dickens suggests that Pip has lost a firm grasp of his identity. Pip says, "I was a blacksmith's boy but yesterday; I am—what shall I say I am—to-day?" As a blacksmith's apprentice, Pip's life was clearly laid out for him. Moving from the working class to the upper class makes Pip feel uncertain about who he is and what is to become of him. Pip also remains uncertain about Estella's true identity. He tries to get Jaggers to reveal Estella's real name. Even though the lawyer claims her name is Havisham, he gives the impression of knowing more information that he cannot tell Pip.

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