Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Comment in detail on the conversation between Pip and Biddy in chapter 18 of Great Expectations.

Expert Answers

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There is indeed communication that takes place between Pip and Biddy in this chapter, but it certainly is not direct, nor is it alone. The conversation revolved around the fact that Pip had just been offered his fortune, to become a gentlemen by way of word through Mr. Jaggers. Pip wanders into the room wondering if Joe communicated with Biddy the good news. Joe tells Pip he thought Pip would want to share his good fortune himself, although the tone and body language of Joe is rather resentful.

Biddy takes Joe's cue and tries to express great happiness for Pip, but likewise demonstrates resentfulness. Pip notes as the narrator:

"There was a certain touch of sadness in their congratulations that I rather resented."

Joe and Biddy continue to talk in Pip's presence regarding what they should do about his being gone. They wonder how they will get along without him. This guilts Pip and further develops the theme of shame that the book continues to express.

Before the night is out, Biddy asks Pip rather directly if he has thought about how often he intends to visit. This pushes him to consider the nature of his expectations and the unknown that he is about to explore. He has little to say.

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