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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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CHAPTERS 47 & 48

For weeks, Pip waits for Wemmick's signal to move Magwitch.
Though he's hanging in suspense, the world around him doesn't
stand still. His debts pile up, now that he won't use Magwitch's
money (but notice that now he considers it a "heartless fraud"
to take the money; before, he felt disgusted by it). He also
senses that Estella's marriage is taking place somewhere, but he
doesn't want to know for sure. To Pip's credit, his major worry
during these weeks is about Magwitch. His waves of fear for
the man's safety are like the river tides, which carry him back
and forth past the house where Magwitch signals out of his
window.

As he did in Chapter 31, Pip tries to forget his troubles by
going to the theater. Dickens gives us a second burst of satire
on the contemporary drama, making fun of cheap popular
entertainments that were like bad musical comedy. As usual,
Wopsle's ridiculous on stage, but he's also thrown off when he
sees Pip in the audience. We can't quite sit back and just watch
this play as we did the one before. After the play, Wopsle tells
Pip that, sitting behind Pip, "like a ghost," Wopsle saw one of
the two convicts from that long-ago battle on the marshes. Pip
acts cool, but underneath he's shaken. This is no mere
coincidence-just when he was forgetting his fears, Compeyson
was right there following him! Danger and evil surround Pip,
pervading everything. Pip deftly questions Wopsle, never
giving away his urgent interest; then he goes home to tell
Herbert and, via letter, Wemmick.



Coincidences and strange connections begin to multiply. Pip
runs into Jaggers in the street, and is invited to dinner at
Jaggers' house, where he's given a note from Miss Havisham.
(Wemmick is there too, but around Jaggers he's like a different
person, and Pip can't get any friendly response from him.)
Jaggers seems to be trying to be sociable, but perhaps he
doesn't know how. Jaggers brings up Estella's marriage, rather
callously speculating on how Drummle will mistreat her. Just
then, Pip is visited by another "ghost"- Estella's mysterious
resemblance to someone-when Jaggers' housekeeper Molly
walks in. Her knitting fingers, her intent eyes, her streaming
hair-she has to be Estella's real mother! Pip's going on
intuition, but he's convinced of the fact. Afterwards, walking
homewards with Wemmick (who immediately becomes his
private, friendly self, Pip asks another series of questions, to
learn Molly's story. Wemmick tells him she was accused of
murdering another woman in a fight over a man-Molly's
common-law ("over the broomstick") husband. Jaggers, of
course, got her acquitted. Part of his masterful defense
revolved around Molly's little daughter, whom she reportedly
killed to revenge herself on her faithless husband. It's a bloody
tale of low-bred passion and violence-but, parting from
Wemmick, Pip feels sure that Estella is that vanished daughter.
Once again, the worlds of good and evil that he tried to keep
pure and separate are tangled together.

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