In chapter 5 explain: "like a wicked Noah's ark" at the very end of the chapter."Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As the two convicts are apprehended by the officers in "Great Expectations," the sergeant yells,

Surrender, you two! and confound you for two wild beasts! Come asunder!

Pip's convict and the second convict, who are caught as they fight are summarily returned to the prison ship that sits "barred and moored by rusty chains."  It is "like a wicked Noah's ark" because it loads pairs of men like "beasts," but not to transport them.  Instead, they are chained and confined to the prison-ship and made to remain on this "wicked ark."  They do not get to return to the world as the animals of Noah's ship do.  In fact, the convicts are of little consequence at all:

No one seemed surprised to see him, [Pip's convict] or interested in seeing him, or glad to see him, or sorry to see him, or spoke a word except that somebody in the boat growled as if to dogs, 'Give way, you!' which was the signal for the dip of the oars.

This "evil Noah's ark" holds miserable men who have lost their humanity, being treated as though they are curs.  Pip watches as the convict is taken up the side of the prison-ship and disappears.  Then, as the ends of the torches are "flung hissing into the water," Pip comments that it is as though "it were all over with him"; the boy and Joe are the only witnesses who feel any compassion for this miserable wretch on the marshes.

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Great Expectations

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