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Can someone explain this context from Great Expectations please? (Chapter 28 / Volume...

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mizradane | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted June 25, 2012 at 4:01 PM via web

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Can someone explain this context from Great Expectations please? (Chapter 28 / Volume 2- chapter ix)

All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers, and with such pretences did I cheat myself. Surely a curious thing. That I should innocently take a bad half-crown of somebody else's manufacture, is reasonable enough; but that I should knowingly reckon the spurious coin of my own make, as good money ! An obliging stranger, under pretence of compactly folding up my bank-notes for security's sake, abstracts the notes and gives me nutshells; but what is his sleight of hand to mine, when I fold up my own nutshells and pass them on myself as notes!

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katehackett | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted June 25, 2012 at 9:22 PM (Answer #1)

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I believe you're asking "Can you explain this quote from Great Expectations", which is what I'll answer.


All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers, and with such pretences did I cheat myself. Surely a curious thing. That I should innocently take a bad half-crown of somebody else's manufacture, is reasonable enough; but that I should knowingly reckon the spurious coin of my own make, as good money ! An obliging stranger, under pretence of compactly folding up my bank-notes for security's sake, abstracts the notes and gives me nutshells; but what is his sleight of hand to mine, when I fold up my own nutshells and pass them on myself as notes!

The quote is referring to self-deceipt. After he ignores Joe while he is at Miss Havisham, Pip believes himself to be worse than a criminal, for he deceived himself: he placed Joe at a low value and so he (Pip) is lower still.

In the scene before, Pip willingly and willfully ignores Joe in favor of Miss Havisham, who turns her nose up at the lower-class Joe. Pip's inner guilt for ignoring his sister's husband tears away at him. He believes he is worse than the lowly criminal he saved earlier. To deny it would be a lie.

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