Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

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What does Magwitch think happened to his child?

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Magwitch is Estella's father, a fact unknown to both of them. Before his imprisonment, Magwitch was in a relationship with a woman named Molly. She was his common law wife. The two had Estella together, and Magwitch adored his little girl. Molly was rather unstable as a person, jealous and spiteful to the point of being a danger to her own daughter. Jaggers defended her in court, which lead to her becoming his servant in exchange.

Magwitch was told by Molly that the child was dead. In fact, he was told the baby was not only dead but also killed by Molly herself—and just to hurt Magwitch, since he loved the girl more than anything or anyone else. And as far as Magwitch knew, this was the case. What he did not know was that Estella had been given to Jaggers by Molly, and after that, he allowed Miss Havisham to adopt her. So while Estella knows she was adopted, she is unaware that both her parents are criminals and remains so to the ending of the novel.

However, Magwitch is ultimately told of his daughter's true fate by Pip, right as Magwitch lies on his deathbed. Pip assures him that Estella has grown into a beautiful, accomplished young lady and that he adores her. In this way, Magwitch is able to die in peace.

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