Great Expectations | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Chapters 43–44

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapters 43–44 of Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations.

Great Expectations | Chapters 43–44 | Summary



Chapter 43

Pip becomes concerned about Compeyson finding out that Magwitch has returned. Also Pip realizes Estella has gone to Satis House without him, which is unusual. Pip makes arrangements for Herbert to look after Magwitch and then takes a coach to his home village, where he plans to visit Satis House. At the Blue Boar Pip sees Drummle. Pip orders breakfast and becomes annoyed at Drummle standing before the fireplace, blocking the heat. Pip positions himself side by side with Drummle. They both remain stubbornly standing before the fire, even though Drummle's breakfast has been cleared and Pip's breakfast has been brought. Drummle tells a servant that the lady won't go riding today, and he is to dine with the lady. Drummle's reference to the lady cuts Pip to the heart. Three farmers come toward the fireplace, forcing Pip and Drummle to relinquish their positions. Drummle gets on a horse and rides away. Pip feels too "out of sorts" to eat much breakfast and heads toward Satis House.

Chapter 44

Pip visits Miss Havisham and Estella in the dressing room of Satis House. Pip confronts Miss Havisham about letting him think she was his benefactress. Miss Havisham admits to doing this and becomes angry when Pip asks her if leading him on was kind. Pip says she also misled the Pockets, Georgiana, and the Camillas. Miss Havisham becomes defensive about this, saying her relatives and Pip "made [their] own snares." Pip, though, claims that Mr. Pocket and Herbert are not self-seeking and therefore should not be lumped with her other relatives. Miss Havisham wonders what Pip wants her to do for the two of them.

Pip then declares his love for Estella, who seems unmoved and reminds Pip that she warned him about not having a heart. Pip goes further, saying he suspects Miss Havisham wants Estella to marry Drummle. Estella admits she is going to marry Drummle but says Miss Havisham has nothing to do with the decision. Appalled that Estella plans to marry such a brute, Pip begs her to reconsider. Estella remains firm with her decision and says Pip will forget about her in a week. Pip pours his heart out to Estella, saying, "Out of my thoughts! You are part of my existence, part of myself." Miss Havisham seems to show some pity and remorse as she looks at Pip and Estella. Devastated, Pip leaves and heads directly back to London. At the entrance to the Temple, the night porter gives Pip a note from Wemmick that tells Pip not to go home.


The theme of social class and ambition dominates both Chapters 43 and 44. Pip confronts Drummle by standing next to him before the fireplace and refusing to budge. As rival suitors of Estella's, both Pip and Drummle have the same ambition of marrying her. Each rival looks at the boots of the other, as if to see whether the rival's boots are as good as his own. This rivalry, therefore, is as much a competition of social status and appearance as a rivalry for Estella.

In Chapter 44 Dickens reveals how ambition takes different forms. Pip admits to Miss Havisham and Estella his romantic ambition, namely his love for Estella. Indeed Pip holds nothing back when he tells Estella, "You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since—on the river, on the sails of ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light." Estella, though, has her own ambition. She has tired of her life and wants a change. As a result she has decided to marry Drummle, even though Miss Havisham is against the marriage. So in a way Estella's surface ambition disguises a deeper ambition, namely to take revenge on Miss Havisham for her abusive upbringing of Estella. Also Estella has another more perverse ambition, specifically to punish herself for being such a heartless person. Estella believes she deserves Drummle's brutishness and so agrees to marry him. Estella realizes Drummle deserves nothing better than a wife with no heart. Estella states, "Don't be afraid of my being a blessing to him [Drummle]. I shall not be that."

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