Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Chapters 48 and 49 Summary

Chapter 48

Pip is invited to dinner at Jaggers's house. Once there, Pip receives a message from Miss Havisham stating that he needs to visit her so they can discuss financing Herbert's career goals. Jaggers also relays to Pip that Estella is now married to Drummle, and he suggests to Pip that Drummle will abuse Estella. Pip is incredibly saddened by this news, both because he desires Estella and because he cares for her safety and well-being.

As the dinner goes on, Jaggers reprimands Molly, the housekeeper, for not working fast enough. This draws Pip's attention to Molly, and as he watches her, he realizes that her gestures and eyes greatly remind him of Estella's. He immediately suspects that Molly is, in fact, Estella's mother. After dinner, as Pip is walking home with Wemmick, he implores Wemmick to tell of Molly's background. Wemmick explains how she stood trial for allegedly murdering another woman out of jealousy, but Jaggers was able to win the trial for Molly. Rumors were also circulating that Molly killed her baby in order to spite her husband. These rumors were never confirmed, and Pip learns that the baby was said to be a girl.

Chapter 49

Pip speaks to Miss Havisham, and she agrees to invest nine hundred pounds in Herbert's career. She asks Pip if he wants monetary aid, but he declines the offer. Miss Havisham is beside herself with guilt and begs Pip to forgive her for teaching Estella to mistreat him. Pip assures Miss Havisham that he forgives her and greatly encourages her to teach Estella to allow herself to love. Miss Havisham agrees.

Pip asks how Miss Havisham came to adopt Estella. After he learns the story of her adoption, Pip leaves and walks through the old brewery, where he has a vision of Miss Havisham hanging to death in her wedding dress. Spooked, Pip decides to go back and check on Miss Havisham and finds her in flames. He tackles her and attempts to smother the fire with the wedding dress. His arm is badly burned, and though Miss Havisham lives, she is greatly injured and only says the same three lines over and over again, regretting the way she brought up Estella and asking for Pip's forgiveness.