Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Chapters 40 and 41 Summary

Chapter 40

Pip decides to set aside his other concerns and focus solely on hiding Magwitch. He gives Magwitch the fake name “Provis” and passes him off as his uncle.

Pip sees a mysterious figure lurking in his stairway, and when the figure notices Pip, he runs away. This encounter prompts Pip to visit the watchman to see if anyone else came around. The watchman tells Pip that two men came the night before, and the watchman presumed they were together. Pip is concerned that this stranger might have followed Provis and might know his true identity.

The next day, Provis tells Pip that he was determined to visit London to see how his “gentleman” was doing, no matter the risk to his own life. He also intends to remain in London. Pip assumes responsibility for his expenses out of gratitude, obtaining a room in a lodging house on Essex Street.

After checking him in to the lodging house, Pip goes to Jaggers’s office to confirm everything Provis told him. Jaggers effectively confirms it, claiming that this person is, or was, in New South Wales. Pip says he had assumed that Miss Havisham was his benefactor, but Jaggers points out that no evidence had ever supported that idea. Pip merely wanted to believe it was true.

Pip buys Provis some new clothes with the intention of disguising him, but instead of camouflaging him, they emphasize Provis’s appearance as that of a convict. When Herbert arrives, Provis makes him swear an oath on the Bible not to tell anyone where he is.

Chapter 41

After Herbert swears his oath, Pip can finally unburden himself with his trusted friend, and he explains the whole story to Herbert. Together, the two young men devise a plan. Getting Provis out of England right away is imperative, and this can best be accomplished if Pip goes with him. Once safely abroad, Pip must leave Provis and break off any further contact.