Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Chapters 52 and 53 Summary

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 402

Chapter 52

Pip meets with Clarriker, a shipping merchant, and provides him funding for Herbert's new position. Clarriker plans to expand his business in the Middle East and hopes that Herbert will run the operation. Herbert is excited when he hears the news and dreams about life abroad with Clara and Pip.

Pip then receives word from Wemmick that the appropriate time to move Magwitch will be in two days. Due to his burned arm, Pip cannot row the boat, so Herbert recommends bringing Startop in on the plan. Pip also receives an anonymous letter promising information about his "Uncle Provis" (that is, Magwitch) if Pip meets with the writer alone in the marsh near where Pip grew up.

Pip catches a carriage back to the village and stays at an inn where he is not recognized. The innkeeper tells him a story of a lad from the village who was made rich but spurned those who supported him as a child, not realizing that he is talking about Pip. When Pip inquires about whom this lad spurned, the innkeeper names Pumblechook. This makes Pip furious, and he thinks about how Joe would never complain about how Pip has treated him, despite knowing he should have treated Joe much better.

Chapter 53

Pip heads to the marsh at the appointed meeting time and enters the old sluice-house, where he is attacked from behind. Pip's attacker restrains him and, lighting a candle, reveals himself to be Orlick. Orlick blames Pip for having thwarted his plans since Pip was a child and admits to having attacked Pip's sister. As he waits, bound and at Orlick's mercy, Pip reflects on how sorry he is, how many people he has wronged, and how they will never know how he regrets his actions. He assumes Magwitch and Herbert will also think he has abandoned them, not knowing why he has vanished.

Orlick tries to kill Pip, and Pip cries out for help. Unexpectedly, Trabb's boy, Startop, and Herbert come to his rescue. Herbert explains that the letter Pip received fell out of his pocket at their apartment; Herbert found it and followed him to the marsh. Although Orlick has escaped, Pip and Herbert decide not to pursue him or involve the law, for fear of endangering Magwitch. Herbert and Startop take Pip back to the Temple, where Herbert treats Pip’s burn and Pip falls into an anxious slumber.

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Chapters 50 and 51


Chapters 54 and 55