Chapter 50: How does Pip show real courage and character?Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Chapter L of the etext of Great Expectations mainly covers the tending of Pip's burns by Herbert who, in so doing, tells Pip more of the history of Abel Magwitch. He reveals to Pip that Magwitch has told him that he has had a child, a girl.  However, the mother of this child threatened to kill the girl if Abel Magwitch pursued her after she had strangled a jealous woman.

Then, in Chapter LI, which in some texts is Chapter L, Pip bravely goes to Little Britain and finds both Mr. Jaggers and Wemmick together.  Seizing the opportunity, Pip presents the request for nine hundred pounds which Miss Havisham has donated for Herbert Pocket's future, and Wemmick is told to draw the cheque; courageously, then, Pip inquires about a certain woman and her daughter.  And, he tells Mr. Jaggers that he knows who the father of the child is as well. Mr. Jaggers brusquely inquires on what evidence Provis makes the claim to be the father.  After this, Jaggers tries to put Pip off by his asking Wemmick what he was about to do.  Pip narrates, 

I could not submit to be thrown off in that way, and I made a passionate, almost an indignant appeal to him to be more frank and manly with me. I reminded him of the false hopes into which I had lapsed, the length of time they had lasted, and the discovery I had made: and I hinted at the danger that weighed upon my spirits. I represented myself as being surely worthy of some little confidence from him, in return for the confidence I had just now imparted. I said that I did not blame him, or suspect him, or mistrust him, but I wanted assurance of the truth from him.

In typical fashion, Mr. Jaggers admits to nothing,but puts forth his argument, contending that if he could prevent the child's death and destruction through marriage he would.

“Put the case, Pip, that here was one pretty little child out of the heap who could be saved; whom the father believed dead, and dared make no stir about; as to whom, over the mother, the legal adviser had this power:

Then, he asks Pip for whose safety Pip would advise the girl of thee truth.  Realizing that Mr Jaggers is correct; Estellla would be disgraced were her parentage revealed.  So Pip departs.

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Great Expectations

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