Chapters 42-58 What key events occur between Magwitch's appearance and Pip's metting with Estella?Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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With the exception of two chapters, what is under consideration here is Stage III of Great Expectations.  This composes the part of the novel in which Pip has his second change of character; that is, he rejects his selfishness and cupidity of Stage II and returns to the true values of friendship and love that he has known in Stage I.  Thus, after experiencing the falsity of the world outside the forge, Pip reemerges as mature version of the honest and noble person that he was as a child.

  • In this third stage, Pip reencounters some of the characters that he has met in the beginning part; however, they emerge with different names or as older, wiser people.  Central to these characters is Magwitch, who comes to London as Provis, a name that closely resembles Providence, for, indeed Provis, has both guarded and indirectly guided Pip to his nobler nature.  After learning of the kindness of Provis and trying to assist him in his escape and learning his poignant history regarding Compeyson, Molly, and Estella, Pip no longer finds Provis repugnant; in fact, he grows to love the poor, unfortunate man, and holds his hand throughout his trial and condemnation.  Pip prays for him as he dies. 
  • In return for the frienship and solicitude of Herbert, with the financial aid of Miss Havisham, Pip establishes Herbert in a banking house, thus enabling him to marry his love, Clara.
  • Pip returns to Satis House where he confronts Miss Havisham and Estella, begging her not to marry Bentley Drummle, telling her, "You are "part of my existence, part of myself."  But, she refuses him; having witnessed this, Miss Havisham realizes her great sin against Pip and later begs him to forgive her. That evening her dress catches on fire and Pip rescues her.
  • Pip's friend Wemmick intervenes for Pip and warns him not to go home as Orlick has been watching his apartment, for he wants to kill Pip, but, fortuitously, he has dropped a note that reveals Orlick's having lured him to the sluice house where he is rescued.
  • After the traumatic events of caring for Provis and his near-death experience with Orlick, Pip is cared for by Joe, who returns to calling him the old names.  But, when Pip feels better, Joe begins to call him "sir."  Pip's reflections on Joe lead him to wonder,

how I had conceived that old idea of his inaptitude, until I was one day enlightened by the reflection that perhaps the inaptitude had never been in him at all, but had been in me.

  • Then, after eleven years, Pip returns to the forge only to find Biddy who tells him it is hers and Joe's wedding day.  
  • Two years later, he sees Estella, who arrives after all these years and they reconcile as friends. Pip has Joe's little son with him, whom Estella mistakes as his.  Asking to kiss him, Estella reveals "a heart to undersstand what my heart used to be.


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