In the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations, why do Camilla, Raymond, and Sarah Pocket visit Miss Havisham?

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William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Camilla, her husband Raymond, and Sarah Pocket are Miss Havisham's closest relatives. Along with another female relative called Georgiana, they are permitted to visit Miss Havisham once a year on her birthday. Pip meets them at Miss Havisham's home in Chapter 11 of Great Expectations and forms a bad opinion of all of them. When he has to spend some time waiting with them to see Mrs. Havisham, he describes them as follows:

There were three ladies in the room and one gentleman. Before I had been standing at the window five minutes, they somehow conveyed to me that they were all toadies and humbugs, but that each of them pretended not to know that the others were toadies and humbugs: because the admission that he or she did know it, would have made him or her out to be a toady and humbug.

These people expect to inherit Miss Havisham's fortune when she dies, and they are obviously looking forward to that event like so many vultures. She has nothing but contempt for them because she understands them perfectly. Their expressions of affection and sympathy throughout Chapter 11 show that Pip was perfectly right in sizing them up as toadies and humbugs. They are all suspicious of Pip and do not conceal their dislike for the boy when Miss Havisham is not present. They do not like the idea that the lonely old woman may be developing a fondness for Pip, which could mean that she might think of leaving a part of her estate to him. They undoubtedly have the same suspicion and antipathy for Estella, who is quite obviously Miss Havisham's favorite. 

The purpose of this chapter seems at least partly to suggest that Miss Havisham is taking a special interest in Pip. Pip can read this in the looks he gets from her hypocritical relatives, who assume he is a toady and a humbug too. It will encourage Pip to believe that Miss Havisham is his secret patron and that her motive is to train him to be a polished gentleman so that she can leave him all her money and have him marry Estella. People tend to believe what they want to believe, and Pip goes for many years with the belief that he is destined to become rich and have Estella for his bride because the crusty and eccentric old Miss Havisham has decided this will be his future. It is a coincidence that Pip meets Mr. Jaggers for the first time at Miss Havisham's house in Chapter 11. Since it is Jaggers who will later announce Pip's great expectations and become his guardian, it is natural for Pip to assume that Miss Havisham is his anonymous benefactor.

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Great Expectations

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