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Great Expectations | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Chapters 33–34

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapters 33–34 of Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations.

Great Expectations | Chapters 33–34 | Summary



Chapter 33

Pip meets Estella as she gets out of her coach. She is more beautiful than ever. As she talks to Pip, Estella gives the impression that she and Pip are following the orders of Miss Havisham. Based on these orders, Pip has a waiter lead him and Estella to a private sitting room and orders tea. She tells Pip that she is to live with a lady in Surrey, Richmond. Also Estella says how the Pockets, not including Matthew and his son, have misrepresented Pip as a disreputable person to Miss Havisham. Estella laughs about this and assures Pip that these slanders have had no effect on Miss Havisham. Pip is entranced by Estella, who allows him to kiss her cheek. They have tea, after which Pip takes Estella to a post-coach.

As Pip and Estella ride to Richmond, they pass by Newgate Prison. Pip mentions that Mr. Jaggers has many clients in the prison. Since her early childhood Estella has often seen Jaggers at Satis House but has never gotten to really know him. Pip feels as if his heart is in Estella's hand, and she knows it. Estella tells Pip he is to visit her in Richmond whenever he thinks proper. They arrive at her new residence, and Pip says goodbye to Estella.

Chapter 34

Pip feels uneasy about the way he has treated Joe and Biddy. At times Pip thinks he would have been happier if he had remained at the forge. Also Pip feels guilty about how he has influenced Herbert for the worse. Following Pip's lead Herbert spends beyond his means and, like Pip, has accrued large debts. Pip thinks about offering to take on Herbert's debts, but he knows Herbert is too proud to accept. Herbert constantly goes into the city to look about for a job opportunity with no success. Pip and Herbert try to solve their financial woes by spending hours on their bookkeeping. However, these attempts at solvency have no effect on their spending habits. As Pip and Herbert ponder their bills, Pip receives a letter informing him of Mrs. Joe's death.


In Chapter 33 Dickens analyzes the theme of social class by emphasizing the power of money. The author often uses the symbol of money to represent power or control over people's lives. Miss Havisham is a wealthy woman of the upper class who uses her money to control other people. The chapter opens with Estella giving Pip her purse filled with money provided by Miss Havisham and telling Pip, "We have no choice, you and I, but to obey our instructions." These instructions involve doing actions that Miss Havisham is paying for. Estella can be seen as a puppet on a string with Miss Havisham as the puppet master. Estella, though, becomes a puppet who controls another puppet, namely Pip. In this way Miss Havisham tries to exact her revenge on men. However, this elaborate method of control would not be possible without ample funds.

In Chapter 34 Dickens focuses on the theme of guilt and redemption and the theme of deceit. Throughout the chapter Pip is plagued by guilt over various actions, including treating Joe badly, spending beyond his means, and influencing Herbert for the worse. Pip makes a stab at redemption by focusing on his bookkeeping with the hope of solving his financial problems. This attempt seems to be in earnest. Pip and Herbert spend hours at their task, creating a list of bills and checking off each one. However, Pip and Herbert are deceiving themselves. Despite the feeling of satisfaction at organizing their bills, they have done nothing to curb their spending. Pip and Herbert also deceive themselves about enjoying their lives. Pip states, "There was a gay fiction among us that we were constantly enjoying ourselves, and a skeleton truth that we never did."

Also in Chapter 34 Dickens depicts Pip's gravitation toward dandyism, or the placing of importance on having a refined appearance and doing leisure activities without accomplishing anything of any real worth. The author does this mainly through Pip's involvement with the Finches of the Grove, a club of idle, wealthy young gentlemen. Pip says of this club: "the object of which institution I have never divined, if it were not that the members should dine expensively once a fortnight, to quarrel among themselves as much as possible after dinner, and to cause six waiters to get drunk on the stairs."

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