Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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What significant documents, like letters or wills, are mentioned in "Great Expectations"?

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Certainly, in Charles Dickens's novel, Great Expectations, there are some letters and documents which mark momentous points in Pip's life, and there are letters which prove significant, as well.  Here is a list of several of them:

1.  Pip's letters of indentures mark the end of Pip's innocent childhood as he and Joe go to Miss Havisham's where Joe acts so oddly that Pip is embarrassed. Miss Havisham hands Pip twenty-five guineas in a bag to give to Joe and tells him "Goodbye" because Gargery is his master now. 13

2. When Mr. Jaggers appears in Pip's fourth year of apprenticeship at the Jolly Bargemen, he informs Pip that he has a benefactor who will provide for his becoming a gentleman.  While there is no paper shown, Mr. Jaggers mentions certain stipulations to which Pip must adhere, such as his not changing his name.  Jaggers says, "The condition is laid down," a statement which indicates that stipulations are written in a document. 18

3. Regarding the history of Miss Havisham, Herbert tells Pip that she received a letter from Compeyson at twenty minutes to nine.  This letter informed her that he would not marry her. 22

4. After Pip arrives in London and begins to furnish his apartment with Herbert, he visits Mr. Jaggers who orders Wemmick, "Take Pip's written order, and pay him twenty pounds."  24

5. Because Pip has been in London for a while, Biddy writes on behalf of Joe, who wishes to visit him.  It is a rather formal letter notifying Pip that Joe is accompanying Mr. Wopsle.  27

6. On a return home, Pip stops at the Boar's Nest and reads in the newspaper that Uncle Pumblechook--"that basest of swindlers"--has taken credit for Pip's good fortune, referring to himself as Pip's mentor. 28

7. One day in London, Pip receives "a note by post" from Estella requesting that he meet her when she arrives on a midday coach.  From this letter, Pip assumes that Miss Havisham desires his being around Estella.  However, Estella informs him that she is going to Richmond to live with a lady there who "has the power" of showing her to society.  31

8. Pip receives a letter that Mrs. Joe has died.  34

9.  Pip receives "an official note" from Wemmick, informing him to call upon Mr. Jaggers.  Pip arrives, now of legal age, Pip is handed a five hundred pound note as a present from his benefactor.  Pip is informed that henceforth he will take his money affairs into his own hands.  Jaggers says, "I am the mere agent.  I execute my instructions." 36

10. After visiting at Satis House, Pip receives a strange note when he arrives in London; it is written by Wemmick and reads "Don't go home." 44

11. One morning after Pip makes arrangements for Herbert to work at Clarriker's branch house, a mysterious letter arrives from Wemmick; it tells him to burn the missive as soon as he reads it and reads,

You might do what you know of, if you felt disposed to try it. Now burn. 52

This letter refers to Pip's plans to help Provis escape.

11.  When Compeyson's body is found in the Thames, he has papers which indicate an accurate knowledge of Magwitch's affairs.  55

12. After Pip is burned, Joe cares for him and leaves a note after Pip is well, signing "Ever the best of friends."  (He has learned to write from Biddy.) 57

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