Chapter VIII introduces the reader to Miss Havisham's house, ironically called Satis House--which means "enough," as in "satisfaction." First, however, Pip visits the shop of his self-proclaimed benefactor, the gluttonous Mr. Pumblechook. Dickens prepares the reader for the decayed and barren Satis House by contrasting it with the corn-chandler's establishment, stocked with impending life. Both places, however, are jails in their own ways.
Pumblechook is a seed salesman. His shop is described as "peppercorny" and "farinaceous" (meaning mealy, like hot breakfast cereals made out of grain--like oatmeal, porridge, grits). It is full of seeds for crops and vegetables, flowers and bulbs, but all this potential life is confined in packets and drawers waiting to be released "from those jails" so that it can sprout and bloom.
Pip arrives at Satis House under escort (Pumblechook), waits at the iron barred gate for admittance by Estella, who carries the keys. Estella, like a jailor, takes Pip across yards and down long, dark corridors, depositing him at his destination and retrieving him again as ordered. She allows him exercise in the yard and seems to be everywhere. He watches her ascend iron stairs and then imagines a beam to be suspending a hanged figure. Even Pip's thoughts are full of the language of prison--"injustice," "coercion," "conviction," "punishment," and "penitential performances." There is nothing blooming in the greenhouse or garden of Satis House. The grass grows in the crevices, cucumber frames are broken, the box tree is overgrown, and everything that still lives is rank and weedy.