Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens
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In Great Expectations, why does Pip lose his fortune? Can you quote the passage that tells us that he loses his fortune?

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In chapter 54, the authorities finally arrest Magwitch, who is severely injured during the fight with Compeyson, but they allow Pip to accompany him back to London. On their way to back to London, Pip experiences a new feeling for Magwitch and is filled with gratitude and appreciation for all...

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In chapter 54, the authorities finally arrest Magwitch, who is severely injured during the fight with Compeyson, but they allow Pip to accompany him back to London. On their way to back to London, Pip experiences a new feeling for Magwitch and is filled with gratitude and appreciation for all he has done. As Magwitch's breathing becomes more labored, he tells Pip that he is content knowing that Pip will continue to live as a gentleman without him. Pip understands that he will no longer be able to live the life of an upper-class gentleman because all of Magwitch's money will be seized by the Crown (government). Pip thinks to himself,

Apart from any inclinations of my own, I understood Wemmick’s hint now. I foresaw that, being convicted, his possessions would be forfeited to the Crown. (Dickens, 631)

In the following chapter, Pip visits Mr. Jagger's office in London, where he expresses his displeasure towards Pip for losing his fortune. Mr. Jaggers goes on to comment that the Crown will surely seize Magwitch's entire fortune. Pip elaborates on his conversation regarding the outcome of Magwitch's trial by saying,

Mr. Jaggers was querulous and angry with me for having "let it slip through my fingers," and said we must memorialize by-and-by, and try at all events for some of it. But, he did not conceal from me that although there might be many cases in which the forfeiture would not be exacted, there were no circumstances in this case to make it one of them. I understood that, very well. (Dickens, 633)

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This section of the novel comes in Chapter 54, which narrates how, in spite of Pip's best efforts, Magwitch is captured by the crown. What is key to note in this chapter is how Magwitch's capture changes Pip's feelings towards his benefactor, and how he very kindly keeps the loss of his fortune away from Magwitch, so he dies under the illusion that he has succeeded in his aim of "making" a gentleman. The passage where Pip reveals his loss of wealth goes as follows:

No. I had thought about that while we had been there side by side. No. Apart from any inclinations of my own, I understood Wemmick's hint now. I foresaw that, being convicted, his possessions would be forfeited to the Crown.

Thus with the capture of Magwitch and his state as prisoner, the Crown (or government of England) seizes all of his assets and wealth, meaning that Pip is not left with any money. So, a sad truth, but what is more important to focus on in this chapter is how Pip matures and develops through his loss of money, and also how he comes to care for Magwitch as a kind of father-figure.

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