In chapter 40 of Great Expectations, how does Pip feel about the visitor?Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Pip detects a "lurker" on his stairs, he is troubled that the night watchman has not detected him.  And, he is astonished at the man's appearance, asking what business he has with him.  In fact, Pip recoils from the man who holds out his hands to him.  When Pip considers forcing this man out of his apartment, the man warns him

"But don't catch hold of me.  You'd be sorry afterwards to have done it."

It is then that Pip begins to recognize as the man in grey, the convict, from the old graveyard of his youth.  When the man again holds out his hands to Pip, Pip reluctantly takes them and the man kisses them. But, Pip repels him as he moves closer:

At a change in his manners as if he were even going to embrace me, I laid a hand upon his breast and put him away...."Stay!...Keep off!....There must be something good in the feeling that has brought you here, but I will not repulse you, but surely you must understand--I---"

Then as the visitor asks him to explain, Pip tells him that he does not wish to renew their acquaintance. The visitor bites on the end of his neckerchief and asks for a drink.  Noticing that the man's eyes are full of tears, Pip feels "a touch of reproach"; he apologizes for speaking harshly to the old convict.  But, when he attempts to repay the man for the two-pound notes given to him as a boy, the visitor asks Pip how he has come into his money and who his guardian might be. 

"Yes, Pip, dear boy, I've made a gentleman on you!  I's me wot has done it!"

Now, to Pip's dismay, he owes his good fortune not to Miss Havisham, but to Magwitch, the old convict. With this realization he feels as if he is suffocating when the convict declares himself his "second father":

The adhorrence in which I held the man, the dread I had of him, the repugnance with which I shrank from him, could not have been exceeded if he had been some terrible beast. 

Putting Magwitch in Herbert's room for the night, Pip sits for more than an hour in a stunned state of mind.  He feels "wrecked"; his dreams of rising above his class seem crushed by this new change of events in Pip's life.  Whereas he has had hopes of rising in social status by having Miss Havisham as his benefactor and by possibly marrying Estella, Pip believes that Estella will reject him as a suitor if she learns from where his money comes, and others will ridicule him if they learn the identity of his real benefactor.

(Note:  This chapter is listed as Chapter 39 on the etext of enotes)

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Great Expectations

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