How does Dickens tell the story in Chapter 53 of "Great Expectations."

lit24 | Student

In Ch.52 Orlick traps Pip by writing a letter asking him to come alone to the old sluice-house on the marhses, saying that he has some secret information to give him regarding Provis (Magwitch). When he arrives there all alone in the night (Ch.53) he is caught hold of by Orlick who threatens to kill him by throwing him into the lime kiln nearby so that he disappears without a trace.

Poor Pip is terrified and Orlick who gloats over his victory reminds him of all the past injuries he has unwittingly done to Orlick: Orlick reminds Pip of how he came in between him and Bidddy and later on how he was responsible for his losing his job as a watchman at Satis house. He also tells Pip that he killed his sister  because Joe always favoured Pip to him. In a drunken state he also tells Pip that it was he who was trailing him and Magwich and that he was constantly watching over him ever since Magwitch returned to London.

At this point, Pip shouts out for help and he is rescued just in time by Herbert and Trabb's Boy and a few others. Orlick escapes under cover of darkness.

This Chapter is important for 3 reasons:

1. It connects the past present and the future: Pip's childhood, youth and manhood and looks forward to the botched escape attempt of Magwitch.

2. Since Dickens has been serialising the story for over more than a year, this chapter helps the contemporary reader to recapitulate all the incidents of the novel from the beginning till now.

3. Dickens narrates these incidents dramatically: "what he (Orlick) did say presented pictures to me and not mere words."


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Great Expectations

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