Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Chapters 8 and 9 Summary

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Last Updated on September 5, 2023, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 624

Chapter 8

Pip goes to Mr. Pumblechook's house. Mr. Pumblechook is a seedsman, and Pip finds drawers full of seeds. He believes the seeds want to escape, and he also notes a connection between the seeds and the corduroy pants that Mr. Pumblechook and his shopman wear. Mr. Pumblechook spends all day looking at the saddler across the street, and the saddler spends all day looking at another tradesman.

After sleeping in a sloping attic, Pip breakfasts with Mr. Pumblechook, who immediately quizzes Pip on math problems and gives Pip crumbs and watered-down milk. They walk to Miss Havisham's house, which is made of old brick and has bars and walled-up windows. Mr. Pumblechook asks the girl who answers the door if Miss Havisham wants to see him, but the girl responds that she does not. The girl takes Pip across the courtyard, and she points out the disused brewery beyond. She tells him the house is called the Manor House or Satis House—Satis means "enough."

The girl takes Pip to a dark room lit by candles, into which no daylight enters. There, he sees a strange woman before a looking glass dressed all in white silk and satin, with white shoes (one of which is off her foot). Pip notices that the white of her clothes has faded and that the dress is meant to fit a rounder woman, as the woman, whose name is Miss Havisham, is now skin and bones. She tells him that her heart is broken and orders him to play, but he says he can't. She tells him then to call Estella, the girl who let him in.

As Estella enters, Miss Havisham tries a jewel on her and weighs its effect with her pretty dark hair. Miss Havisham tells Estella to play cards with Pip, but Estella refers to Pip as a common, coarse boy. Pip notices that the clocks in the rooms have stopped, and everything in the room has been allowed to decay. Estella and Pip play cards, and Estella continues to insult Pip. Miss Havisham asks Pip what he thinks of Estella, and he says that she is pretty and proud. Miss Havisham tells him to come again in six days and tells Estella to bring him downstairs and give him something to eat. Estella brings him beer, meat, and bread.

Left to himself, Pip begins to cry into a wall near the brewery, humiliated by Estella's insults. He then walks on old casks, where he sees Estella from behind, but she does not turn around to look at him. He imagines seeing a figure that looks like Miss Havisham hanging from a hook. Estella comes to let him out, and she says she knows he was crying. He returns to Mr. Pumblechook's but, finding that Mr Pumblechook is out, decides to walk home.

Chapter 9

When Pip gets home, his sister quizzes him about what Miss Havisham's house was like, as does Mr. Pumblechook when he arrives for tea. Pip cannot describe the strange sights he saw, and he lies instead, saying that Miss Havisham is dark (about which Mr. Pumblechook agrees, showing he has never met Miss Havisham) and that she sat in a dark velvet coach. He continues to tell a series of lies, such as that the coach was in Miss Havisham's room and that they, along with Estella, played with flags and swords.

After Mr. Pumblechook leaves, Pip tells Joe that he lied about his visit because Miss Havisham and Estella were so rude to him and he felt so common. Joe tells him not to lie and reassures Pip that he is not coarse. When Pip goes upstairs to bed, he thinks about how common Estella would consider Joe.

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Chapters 6 and 7


Chapters 10 and 11