What is Pip's impression of Mr. Jaggers in chapter 20?Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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When Pip arrives in London, he encounters dirt and noise and ugliness, certainly a rather disappointing beginning for his "great expectations" of becoming a gentleman in this city.  After the coachman, who is fearful of Mr. Jaggers himself, directs Pip to the office of Mr. Jaggers.  However, when Pip enters, the clerk says that Mr. Jaggeers is yet out.  Pip, then, enters a rather dismal office with broken skylights, and looks around the room that has Jaggers's black horsehair chair "with rows of brass nails round it, like a coffin" and two death masks on a shelf. But, after a time, he tells the clerk he will step out to walk around while he waits.  There, Pip hears a rather sordid-looking group speak of Mr. Jaggers, with one saying, "Jaggers would do it if it was to be done."  Hearing this, Pip is impressed with the prowess that the lawyer seems to possess.  More and more people gather, one declaring,

"Jaggers is for him, 'Melia, and what more could you have?”

At last, Pip sees Mr. Jaggers as he returns to Little Britain and Jaggers's office.  Mr. Jaggers walks through the crowd like a ruler as he addresses his followers, telling them brusquely, "Now, I have nothing to say to you!"  Then, he asks them if they have paid Wemmick.  As one little ethnic man kisses his coat and begs to be considered, Jaggers tells him, "You're too late.....I am over the way."  Observing all this, Pip learns of the power over people's lives that Mr. Jaggers wields.  When he enters the office with Mr. Jaggers, and a man tells Mr. Jaggers more than he wishes to know, the clerk calls the man "Spooney!" in a warning tone. Pip remarks,

I called to mind that the clerk had the same air of knowing something to everybody else's disadvantage, as his master had. I wondered how many other clerks there were upstairs, and whether they all claimed to have the same detrimental mastery of their fellow-creatures.

Pip is amazed at the power that Mr. Jaggers seems to possess over his clients whom he addresses as "blundering buffoons" while pushing others aside or threatening to not help them. However, much like his first meeting of Mr. Jaggers when he was a boy at Satis House, there is something rather sinister about Mr. Jaggers, as well.  As he informs Pip of where he will live, who will teach him, how much of a stipend he will receive, Mr. Jaggers also informs Pip,

Of course you'll go wrong somehow, but that's no fault of mine.”

So, it is a rather daunted, although impressed, Pip who leaves for Barnard Inn.

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