Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

Start Free Trial

Chapters 14 and 15 Summary

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Chapter 14

Pip grows into his teenage years and slowly becomes even less enamored with the idea of being Joe's apprentice. His desire to please Estella by becoming less common conflicts with his working-class job and the rough manners of his family. This contrasts greatly with the time before Miss Havisham invited Pip to her home, when he associated an apprenticeship with Joe as the gateway to fulfilled manhood.

Pip is tempted to run away and work as a sailor or soldier; however, loyalty to and love for Joe keep him in his appointed place. However, he is ashamed of his home and his town, believing them to be "coarse" and "common."

Chapter 15

Pip stops attending Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's school and has learned all he can from Biddy. He begins giving Joe reading lessons on Sundays, but his motives for doing so are less pure than when he first proposed to do so, since he is mostly hoping to improve Joe's manners so that he will have less to be ashamed of in his association with Joe. Pip doubts Joe retains much of their lessons, but Joe seems to enjoy them all the same.

During one of their lessons, Pip mentions he would like to visit Miss Havisham again, but Joe says that might not be a good idea. When Pip suggests he go to thank her for all she did for him, Joe suggests Pip do her some kind of service, such as fixing a door chain or giving her a toast fork. They have a circular discussion on the matter until Pip eventually resolves to go visit anyway, despite what Joe thinks.

Pip is also bothered by Joe's journeyman forge worker, Orlick. Orlick is a cruel man who enjoys antagonizing others. As a child, Pip was terrorized by Orlick's claims that the devil lived in one of the forge's corners and that once every seven years, a little boy must be thrown into the fire to keep it going, so Pip should be the next sacrifice.

When Orlick finds out that Joe is giving Pip a half-holiday, he insists he get one too. Joe agrees, but Mrs. Joe overhears and says Joe is being too lenient and wasting their money. Orlick taunts Mrs. Joe by calling her a shrew, and the two begin to argue. Mrs. Joe calls her husband a coward for not defending her honor and descends into an angry fit. To defend her, Joe fights Orlick and wins. He then goes outside to pick up Mrs. Joe, who fainted during the fight.

While Joe and Orlick clean up the forge, Pip goes to Miss Havisham's. He is surprised when Miss Sarah Pocket, and not Estella, answers his knock and sends him inside. Miss Havisham tells him that Estella is at school abroad, and she takes delight in his sadness at not being worthy of her. She sends him away, and Pip feels more ashamed of his station than ever.

As he peruses the shop windows in town, Pip encounters Mr. Wopsle. The two spend an evening reading a play about a man named George Barnwell (the play is The London Merchant, though it is never named so in the text). Pip finds the play boring, but he finds Wopsle's company more pleasing than the idea of going back home.

When they finish, it is night. Pip and Wopsle encounter Orlick on their way back to the forge. Orlick is irritable but not drunk, as Pip initially thinks. They encounter some commotion at the Three Jolly Bargemen, where they learn that something awful has occurred at Pip's home. Pip learns that someone broke into the house and attacked Mrs. Joe. When he arrives, Mrs. Joe is unconscious as a result of a blow to the back of her head, rendering her brain-damaged for the rest of her life.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

Chapters 12 and 13


Chapters 16 and 17