Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Chapters 36 and 37 Summary

Chapter 36

Pip turns twenty-one. This fills him with excitement and hope, as he is now a full adult and expects that on this occasion, his benefactor might reveal themself to him. He is still convinced that this benefactor is Miss Havisham and that she plans to have him marry Estella. However, when he meets with Jaggers, he learns he will have to continue to wait to learn the identity of his benefactor and what plans they might have for him. Jaggers sticks to discussing financials, inquiring into Pip's debts, giving him five hundred pounds, and announcing that he will be able to withdraw one hundred and twenty-five pounds quarterly in place of his previous allowance. This interaction with Jaggers shows that Pip has been careless with his money, falling into debt and unsure of his expenses, despite having far more money than most of the people he grew up with.

Jaggers makes clear that it may be years before Pip's benefactor reveals themself and that he is not a messenger. The meeting leaves Pip with a sense of guilt bordering on dread, reminiscent of Pip's meeting with the convict in chapter 1. Pip invites Jaggers to his birthday celebration, but Jaggers's somber presence dampens the mood.

Pip goes to Wemmick for advice. He wants to use his money to help Herbert get into business as a merchant. Wemmick advises strongly against this kind of gift. He adds that he might have a different answer if asked at home but that he can't give that advice at the office—only at home.

Chapter 37

Pip visits Wemmick at home, and once again, we see a completely different side of Wemmick. Romantic and joyful, Wemmick introduces Pip to his friend Miss Skiffins and happily agrees to help Pip with his scheme. This continues the sense of Wemmick having two almost totally opposite personalities: one for work and one for home.

Pip and Wemmick find a merchant in need of a partner and buy Herbert's way into the position. Mirroring Pip's benefactor, Pip chooses to remain completely anonymous throughout this process. Helping Herbert shows a charitable side of Pip, but choosing to do so anonymously points back toward Pip's ever-growing obsession with Estella and his benefactor's identity.