Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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What are the major events of Pip's second visit to Miss Havisham's house in Great Expectations?

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The biggest difference between Pip’s first visit to Miss Havisham’s and his second visit is that the second time Miss Havisham’s relatives are there.  They do not make a good first impression.

There were three ladies in the room and one gentleman. Before I had been standing at the window five minutes, they somehow conveyed to me that they were all toadies and humbugs, but that each of them pretended not to know that the others were toadies and humbugs. (ch 11, enotes full text pdf p. 56).

This visit is really Pip’s first exposure to the world of insincerity and false fronts that he will become part of as a gentleman in the making.  Interestingly enough  the only sincere player in the day is young Herbert Pocket, who tries to make sense of the absurd situation by launching a fistfight with Pip.

In addition to the fright and guilt that the fight gives him, Miss Havisham points out to Pip where she will be laid to rest when she dies, and shows him her wedding cake (p. 59-60).  It is a morbid sight.

Pip is instructed to aid Miss Havisham in walking around and around the long table. In the center of the table is a decayed bridal cake infested with beetles, spiders, and mice. (enotes summary, ch 10-11)

Miss Havisham clearly does not think any more highly of the relatives than Pip does.  The juxtaposition of the relatives and the wedding decay shows clearly the impact the outside world has had on Miss Havisham, and eventually on Pip.

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To read the summary and analysis:


Dickens, Charles. "Great Expectations." Web. 09 May 2012. <>.

Dickens, Charles. "Great Expectations." Web. 09 May 2012. <>.

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What are the important events that happen during Pip’s second visit to Miss Havisham in Great Expectations?

The first thing that happens is that Estella leads Pip into a room that he has not been in before, and he sees several of Miss Havisham’s relatives.

There were three ladies in the room and one gentleman. Before I had been standing at the window five minutes, they somehow conveyed to me that they were all toadies and humbugs… (ch 11, p. 56).

Pip knows that all of the relatives are frauds, and are really just trying to get in Miss Havisham’s good graces but don’t really care about her.  The relatives talk about not much, and then Estella leads Pip out.

When she gets him alone, Estella bombards Pip with questions.  She asks if she is pretty, and if she is insulting.  Then she slaps him and asks him what he thinks of her.  He refuses to tell her.  She asks him why he does not cry, and he tells her he will never cry for her again.

Pip meets a “burly man of an exceedingly dark complexion, with an exceedingly large head and a corresponding large hand” who asks him who he is (p. 58).  He is suspicious of Pip, and tells him to be careful.  He smells strongly of soap.  This is Pip’s first encounter with Jaggers.

At this point, Miss Havisham takes Pip to see her bridecake.  Everything is covered with cobwebs, spiders, and other signs of decay.

“This,” said she, pointing to the long table with her stick, “is where I will be laid when I am dead. They shall come and look at me here.” (p. 59)

The relatives enter, and confirm Pip’s suspicions that they are toadies and humbugs.  She tells him it is her birthday.  Pip and Estella play at cards.

When Pip is leaving, he is accosted by a “pale young gentleman” who makes him fight.  Pip does not want to fight, but he does.  Pip gives him a black eye and Estella lets him kiss her.

The strange events of this chapter foreshadow a series of important events.  First of all, later Pip becomes great friends with the “pale young gentleman” Herbert Pocket, and Matthew Pocket is his tutor while Jaggers is his guardian.  We also get a clue to Miss Havisham’s strange behavior when we see her rotting wedding cake.

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