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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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CHAPTERS 43 & 44

Recalling how the imaginary stain of Newgate weighed upon
him, making him feel unworthy of Estella, Pip now feels that
Magwitch's news absolutely divides him from Estella. Rather
than dwell on this, Pip tries to concentrate on getting Magwitch
away before Compeyson finds him. But Pip must face his duty
to say goodbye to Miss Havisham and Estella before he goes
abroad with Magwitch.

Events seem out of control. Estella is gone when he calls on
her at Richmond, as though already she's slipping from his
grasp. Following her to Rochester, Pip runs into Drummle at
the inn. Like a pair of stubborn kids, they wage a silly duel
over who shall stand closest to the fire (which seems to
substitute for Estella). The situation will be familiar to anyone
who has blown up a stupid argument just because he hated his
opponent. Drummle is insolent and offensive, but Pip in his
touchy pride isn't much better. The scene is almost entirely
dialogue, as the two young men pit their wills against each
other. People and details around them seem confused, as
though Pip is too wrought-up to see them clearly. When
Drummle finally rides away, Pip is reminded of Orlick. Pip
heads for Satis House, unwillingly for once.

The gloomy ruin of the house fits Pip's spirits. He faces Miss
Havisham and Estella, as he did Jaggers, grimly determined to
know everything about his relation to them. But notice the kind
of reaction Pip gets. Miss Havisham acts indifferent; she coolly
admits that she led him on, but refuses to take responsibility for
his pain. Estella sits silently, her fingers annoyingly busy with
her knitting.



Pip presses on, doggedly. He reveals a second motive for his
visit: to get Miss Havisham to help Herbert, now that Pip won't
have any money to carry out his good deed. (Notice that Miss
Havisham took false credit for being Pip's patron; Pip, in
contrast, doesn't want to be known as Herbert's true patron.)
But Miss Havisham turns a deaf ear. Then Pip clears up one
last piece of business: he finally confesses his love for Estella.
Everyone has taken it for granted for so long, and yet he has
never been able to speak it aloud. Estella seems anxious not to
be blamed for leading Pip on. She always warned him that she
had no heart; her obsessive fingers stop working only in
irritation that he hasn't accepted that yet. Notice how all these
characters-Estella, Jaggers, Miss Havisham-instead of
sympathizing with Pip, focus immediately on themselves and
the roles they played in his disappointment. We see how selfish
they are-but Pip often behaves this way, too. Dickens may be
showing us that this is a common human trait.

Estella then tells Pip, haughtily, that she's going to marry
Drummle. This should be Miss Havisham's moment of
triumph, yet, as she hears Pip plead with Estella not to throw
herself away, the old lady looks shaken. She never considered
how Estella's victims might feel; now her conscience smarts.
Estella, however, remains emotionless, explaining her
pragmatic reasons for marrying Drummle.

The dialogue here is emotional, like a soap opera, but somehow
it isn't corny, its effective. Pip ends with a beautiful speech,
summing up all his years of love for Estella. (Notice Dickens'
poetic effects, the repetitions, the piled-up details, the parallel
phrases.) With a final cry of forgiveness, Pip rushes out. He
walks all the way back to London, trying to wear himself out
so he can't feel anything.

But Pip can't dwell on his personal feelings; the plot is moving
ahead too fast. Wemmick has left a mysterious note for him at
his lodgings gate warning him not to go home.

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