In chapter 29, what are the events that take place at Satis House, and their significance to Pip in Great Expectations?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When Pip goes to Satis House in chapter 29, he assumes that he has been chosen for Estella and Miss Havisham is his benefactor.

When Pip goes to see Miss Havisham, he thinks she has “as good as adopted” him.  He has no idea who his secret benefactor is, so he believes he is being groomed for Estella.  He could not be more wrong, but he has some reasonable evidence to follow.  After all, he is being tutored by Miss Havisham’s relation Matthew Pocket, and Miss Havisham and his benefactor use the same lawyer, Mr. Jaggers.

Pip fantasizes about restoring the house to its former glory, and letting the sunshine in.  His daydreams are rudely interrupted when he sees Orlick there.  When he sees Estella, he barely recognizes her.  Miss Havisham has Estella point out that Pip is also changed, and he is “less coarse and common” (p. 161).  Estella and Pip go walking in the garden.

“You must know,” said Estella, condescending to me as a brilliant and beautiful woman might, “that I have no heart—if that has anything to do with my memory.” (p. 162)

Turning him down like this is actually the kindest thing she has ever done for him.  He expects to love her, and to marry her, and for her to love him.  She smashes his hopes—or thinks she is, by telling him that she cannot love.  Miss Havisham tells Pip to “love her!” (p. 163).

She said the word often enough, and there could be no doubt that she meant to say it; but if the often repeated word had been hate instead of love—despair—revenge—dire death—it could not have sounded from her lips more like a curse. (p. 163).

Pip seems to have a spurt of recognition here, that things are not what they seem.  Estella tried to warn him.  At the end of the chapter, he still thinks that he is destined for Estella, and he loves her, and she will love him, and they will marry and live happily ever.

In this chapter, Pip as much as tells Miss Havisham that he thinks she is his benefactor, and she neither confirms or denies it.  Yet Pip continues to live in the naïve fog of love not for Estella herself, but for the idea of Estella.  He fell in love with her when he was young and she was young, and he has fixated on her.  He does not really know her.

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