Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Chapters 58 and 59 Summary

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Chapter 58

Pip, no longer wealthy, returns to his hometown. He does not receive the same elite treatment at the Blue Boar that he experienced in the past, but he rests well. Upon waking, Pip travels to Satis House and is shocked to find that the property has been auctioned off and that the land has been divided into lots. He then returns to the Blue Boar for breakfast, where he must endure a lecture and passive-aggressive treatment by Pumblechook.

Once Pip has had his fill of Pumblechook's treatment, he leaves to find Joe and Biddy. After searching for Joe and Biddy at the schoolhouse and at the forge, Pip finds them at the house, where he is surprised to find they have just been married. He is overwhelmed by this news and inwardly grateful that he never told Joe that he wanted to marry Biddy. Rather than become sour, however, Pip blesses the couple and congratulates them. He then apologizes for not being a solid friend as of late and informs them that he is heading to Cairo. He bids them farewell and promises to repay them for paying off his debts.

Chapter 59

Pip is in Egypt, where he writes to Joe and Biddy often. He eventually returns to England after eleven years of being away. Upon returning, he immediately visits Joe and Biddy. He discovers that they have children, including a son named Pip, whom adult Pip becomes fond of. Biddy asks Pip if he has finally married, and Pip replies that he is a happy bachelor living with Herbert and Clara and that although he thinks of Estella, he has given up on the chance of the two of them being romantically involved. He has also heard that Drummle was abusive to Estella and was eventually kicked to death by one of his own horses, likely because he beat the horse.

There are two existing endings to the novel. In the first, official ending, Pip revisits the place where Satis House used to stand. All that is left is a fence and the wall of the garden. While he is there, he runs into Estella. She has aged and is softer as a result of the abuse she suffered from Drummle. The two speak and then leave together, hand in hand. Pip says that he "saw no shadow of another parting from her."

The second ending is the original ending, which Dickens eventually changed. In the original ending, Pip is called upon by Estella, who married a doctor after Drummle died. She has gone through many rough years and assures Pip that her suffering has caused her to soften and develop empathy for others.

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Chapters 56 and 57