Great expectations chapter summaries

  • Created by: RDExcite
  • Created on: 09-11-16 06:45

Chapter 1 - Encounter with the convict

  • The bleak marsh setting is described
  • We are introduced to our protagonist, Pip, as a young boy
  • He encounters a convict in the cemetery who demands he brings him food and a file

The chapter does a good job of setting the scene while also throwing us into the action. We are introduced to Pip who is from low social class and is an orphan. Dickens emphasises his vulnerability in this chapter. He even uses pathetic fallacy in his description of the bleak, damp weather.

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Chapter 2 - Gargery household

  • Pip arrives home and we are introduced to his cold and mean sister / guardian, Mrs Joe and her husband the kind blacksmith, Joe Gargery/
  • Pip hides his bread and butter away for the convict and steals from the pantry
  • A cannon goes off, signalling that a convict has escaped from a prison ship.

In this chapter, it is evident that although Mrs Joe is Pip's blood relation, he has a much closer bond with Joe because he genuinely cares for Pip and not about how hard looking after him is. Pip battles with his guilty conscience in this chapter and reads Joe's lips as "Pip" when asking about convicts. His natural inquisitiveness is shown in this chapter when he is asking about the prison ships (to the annoyance of Mrs Joe). This helps create the theme of growing up.

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Chapter 3 - Second encounter with the convict

  • Pip runs to the marshes to give his stolen food and file to the convict
  • On the way, he encounters another convict who he assumes is the "young man" our convict threatened him with the day before
  • Our convict gulps down his food and thanks Pip sincerely
  • When Pip describes the other man he saw, our convict starts filing his leg iron furiously to run after him

When the convict shows his gratitude to Pip, we begin to see that he has a human side and their relationship is now more friendly. Pip's childish innocence and kindness are shown when he wishes the convict to enjoy his food.

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Chapter 4 - Christmas dinner

  • We are introduced to Uncle Pumblechook, Mr and Mrs Hubble and Mr Wopsle who are all guests at the dining table
  • Pip is accused of being ungrateful, vicious etc by the adults
  • Just as the lack of pork pie is about to be discovered, soldiers arrive at the household

Pip's guilty conscience is prominent in this chapter. He genuinely believes that the soldiers have come to arrest him for helping the convict. The adults in this scene (except Joe) are portrayed as hypocritical and mean which contrasts with Pip's innocence.

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Chapter 5 - Convict hunting

  • After Joe fixes some handcuffs, he and Pip join the soldiers in a search for two escaped convicts
  • They find Pip's convict and the other young man brawling on the marshes
  • Pip's convict recognises Pip but takes the blame for 'stealing' the pork pie etc

The big theme of this chapter is justice and morality. Pip's convict faces more punishment so he can be satisfied morally in covering for Pip.

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Chapter 6 - Pip is conflicted

  • Pip feels guilty about helping the convict and getting away with it
  • Narrator Pip tells us that he didn't tell Joe about his misdeed because he thought Joe would think less of him

This chapter very clearly shows the confliction Pip is feeling. Here is a big moment in his growing up when he realizes that not telling the truth is an option. He begins to lose some of his innocence, but we still see it in his concern that Joe will think less of him (when we know he will love Pip just the same)

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Chapter 7 - Miss Havisham's invitation

  • A few years older, Pip is now being taught by Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt (but more by Biddy)
  • Joe tells Pip about his childhood and how he believes that although his father beat him, he was good in his heart
  • Uncle Pumblechook comes with a message that Miss Havisham wants a boy to come and play for her
  • Pip is scrubbed clean and sent to Pumblechook's to visit Satis House in the morning

Dickens is showing how Joe's lower class background and lack of education does not affect his generosity and kindness, which is a social statement because, in Victorian times, class meant a lot. Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe are excited about Havisham's invitation because they think that such a connection would move them up in class.

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Chapter 8 - First visit to Satis House

  • Pip is invited into the gates of Satis house by Estella who dismisses Pumblechook
  • He meets Miss Havisham, who is a lady withering away in a dressing room stood still in time
  • She orders Estella and Pip to play cards and Estella insults Pip's boots and coarse hands
  • Once outside, after being presented food as if he were a dog, Pip begins to cry and thinks about Estella's insults all the way home

This is the first time we see Pip as dissatisfied with his social class. He takes Estella's insults as truth because she is higher class and blames himself for his own sensitivity, not for her cruelty.

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Chapter 9 - Mrs Joe's questioning

  • When Pip arrives home, Mrs. Joe and Pumblechook grill Pip with questions about Satis House and Miss Havisham
  • Not wanting to reveal such information, Pip makes up a plethora of spectacular lies which amaze the adults
  • In private, Pip confesses the reality to Joe who is not upset with him for wanting to be "uncommon" but tells him that he won't get there by lying
  • Narrator Pip notes that this day was the first link in a long chain that determined his life's later course.

Joe takes the term "uncommon" to mean "amazing" or "unusual" rather than "upper class." This misunderstanding is evidence of Joe's priorities - he isn't focused on social class. Instead, Joe concentrates on individual self-worth, hard work, and kindness. This day is important because it has given Pip the ambition to be "uncommon" and has taught Pip to judge himself according to Estella's standards.

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Chapter 10 - Mystery man in the pub

  • Biddy agrees to teach Pip everything she knows and takes over teaching his class
  • Pip goes to meet Joe in the public house where he is talking to a mysterious man
  • The man asks about Pip and looks at him knowingly. He stirs his drink with what Pip recognises as the file he stole for the convict
  • The man gives Pip a shilling wrapped in two pound notes

Driven by ambition to be "uncommon", Pip now sees education as a way to improve himself and to rise in class. Pip is now constantly thinking about social status because he worries about associating with a convict of the lowest class.

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