Who is the merchant who agrees to help Pip with his plan to help Herbert in Great Expectations?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Philip Pirrip, lnown as "Pip," is the central character in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. When Pip finally comes of age and can gain some access his money, he decides he would like to help his best friend, Herbert Pocket, get started in the merchant business. While he is at Jaggers's office, Pip asks Mr. Wemmick for advice.

Wemmick is Jaggers's clerk and he is quite a character. Earlier we discovered that he lives in a small house which he has literally made into a castle--as in "a man's home is his castle." When he is there, Wemmick is a pleasant and amiable person who is free with his conversation and friendship. At work, however, Wemmick is something altogether different. 

Here at work, Wemmick sternly advises Pip not to invest any time, money, or effort into helping Herbert. At home in "castle" Walworth, however, Wemmick wholeheartedly agrees with Pip's plan to help his friend, He is impressed with Pip's generosity and even offers to do whatever he can to help Pip make it happen. It is a confusing dichotomy, but Wemmick explains it this way:

“[M]y Walworth sentiments must be taken at Walworth; none but my official sentiments can be taken at this office.” 

They do manage to find a young merchant named Clarriker who needs a partner, and Pip is able to buy the partnership for Herbert for 250 pounds up front with more payments to follow. Wemmick arranges the deal anonymously so Herbert does no know who his kind benefactor is--just like Pip does not know the identity of his benefactor.

For more great analysis on this classic novel, check out the excellent eNotes sites linked below.

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