In Charles Dickens's Great Expectations, what is significant about the casts on Jaggers's shelf?
" -and the two horrible casts of the twitched faces looked, when my eyes strayed up to them, as if they had come to a crisis in their suspended attention, and were going to sneeze"
The casts that cause Pip so much distress on Jaggers's shelf were taken from two of Jaggers's hanged conficts, and serve to underscore the novel's themes of guilt, innocence, and the inadequacy of the criminal justice system. Pip is learning, as he gets older, that guilt and innocence are not necessarily as easily discerned as he previously had thought, and that the criminal justice system isn't necessarily the final word on a person's morality. It bothers Pip that he helped Magwitch escape, as he is smart enough to know that the act may very well land him in the courtroom as a defendant; however, as he learns more and more about "his" convict, he realizes that Magwitch has an inherently noble spirit, and has redeemed himself in the court of men's hearts by working tirelessly at thankless work to provide a better life for Pip.