Great Expectations | Study Guide

Charles Dickens

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Great Expectations | Chapters 45–46 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 45

Pip goes to a hotel in Covent Garden, where he spends a restless night wondering why he should not go home and whether Magwitch is safe. The next day Pip goes to the Castle, where he finds Wemmick preparing breakfast for the Aged P. Without naming names, Wemmick implies that a convict left Australia and theories had been raised about where he went. He also warns Pip he is being watched. Pip asks Wemmick if he ever heard of Compeyson, if this person is alive, and if so, is he living in London. Wemmick nods his head in response to each question.

Without referring to Magwitch by name, Wemmick says Herbert decided to hide Magwitch in the house of his fiancée, Clara, which is in a secluded part of London. Wemmick suggests that Pip eventually board Magwitch on a foreign packet-boat. Wemmick gives Pip the address of Herbert's fiancée and leaves for work.

Chapter 46

Pip finds Clara's house, where Herbert greets him. Herbert introduces Pip to Clara, a very pretty girl with a modest demeanor. She and Herbert seem smitten with each other. Herbert takes Pip to Magwitch's room, where the former convict is comfortably lodged. Pip tells Magwitch he is under suspicion and being watched.

Herbert relates a plan for getting Pip and Magwitch out of the country. Pip could develop the routine of rowing a boat on the Thames. As Pip rows past Magwitch's hideaway, Magwitch could lower the shade of his window as a signal that all is well. Eventually Pip could include Magwitch in the boat. People would be used to seeing Pip rowing and would not take note of an extra passenger. Pip and Magwitch would wait in the rowboat for a foreign packet-boat to pick them up. Pip and Magwitch agree to this plan. Pip goes back to his room in the Temple. Soon he implements the routine of rowing, but he cannot get rid of the fear of being watched.

Analysis

In Chapters 45 and 46 Dickens conveys the theme of uncertainty and deceit in a new way. Instead of uncertainty and deceit concerning Pip's relationship with Miss Havisham and Estella, these concepts now apply to getting Magwitch out of the country. Pip is uncertain about why he should not go home, who might be watching him, and how to best deal with Magwitch. Once Pip and Herbert develop their plan to sneak Magwitch onto a foreign packet-boat, they are using deceit to resolve uncertainty. In contrast Miss Havisham used deceit to keep Pip ignorant of her true plans for Estella, thereby enhancing his uncertainty.

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