Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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Comment on the following elements of setting from when Pip meets Estella for the last time in Great Expectations: the ivy growing on the ruins of Satis House, the "silvery mist," and the moonlight.

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You are asking about the end of Great Expectations, where Estella and Pip reunite at Satis House after the events of the story are over. Throughout, Dickens has used a lot of symbolism in such elements as the names of his characters and buildings: Pip resembles the apple "pip" from which great things will grow, while Estella's name means "star" because she not only glows brightly but is a fixed point around which Pip navigates during his journey.

At the end of the novel, then, we also see symbolism in the way the weather around Satis House reflects what is going on in the narrative. "Silvery mist" is an element often used in novels of this period to represent obfuscation or mystery. Not only is the setting becoming unclear to us as it fades away, we are also being left with a sense that everything may not be resolved. The ending of this story is particularly ambiguous in terms of the Dickens canon, and the mists represent this.

Satis House, too, is in ruins, representing the fact that the old part of the story (and of Estella and Pip's lives) has now crumbled away, along with Miss Havisham. There is ivy growing on it which indicates that new things will grow out of this rubble, but, at the same time, the ivy is covering up what was once there, so that it will soon be forgotten.

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