Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Chapters 46 and 47 Summary

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Chapter 46

Magwitch has moved into Mrs. Whimple’s boarding house at Mill Pond Bank. Pip makes his way there through the unfamiliar riverside area. There, he finds Herbert, who is visiting Clara, his fiancée, and Pip finally meets the charming, dark-eyed young woman. He hears, but does not meet, Clara’s father, Old Bill Barley, who speaks in a roar; he drinks rum to soothe the gout from which he suffers and is confined to the upper floor.

On the top floor, Magwitch has two rooms, and he seems comfortable. Despite his concern over Compeyson’s arrival in London, Pip withholds that information from for the moment. He is concerned that Magwitch might go looking for his enemy.

Pip tells Magwitch and Herbert about Wemmick’s plan to keep Magwitch out of sight. Pip impresses upon Magwitch that the time has come to leave England and commits to traveling with him or following him shortly. Meanwhile, Pip cannot risk visiting the house again.

As a cover activity, Herbert suggests that he and Pip go rowing on the river. After they locate the appropriate ship, they will be able to row Magwitch out to meet it. They agree on the signals that Magwitch will follow to indicate he has seen them rowing. As Pip leaves, Herbert tells him that Magwitch is lodged there under the name of Campbell.

Back in his own quiet rooms at the Temple, despite knowing he is alone, Pip constantly worries about being found out. He begins his regimen of rowing, sometimes alone, sometimes with Herbert. Pip also worries about his waning finances, as Magwitch has agreed to Pip’s suggestion that he not draw further on his generosity.

Chapter 47

Pip’s concern about being followed is intensified by an experience at the theater. He goes to see Wopsle in two plays, a melodrama and a Christmas pantomime. Afterward, Wopsle tells him that he noticed a man “like a ghost” sitting behind Pip. Wopsle tells Pip that he recognized him as one of the escaped convicts they had seen fighting in the marshes many years earlier. This could only be Compeyson, Pip surmises. After he gets home, Herbert arrives, and they agree to send a note alerting Wemmick.

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Chapters 44 and 45


Chapters 48 and 49