Discovering Dickens - A Community Reading Project

Discovering Dickens

Community Reading Project

Charles Dickens

Great Expectations

Historical Context



<i>Great Expectations</i>

Notes on the Novel
• Maps and Illustrations
• Key to Allusions
• Glossary of Historical Things and Conditions

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Previously, in Great Expectations...

Last time, a party of soldiers came to the forge to have the blacksmith mend a pair of handcuffs -- they were in pursuit of convicts escaped from the Hulks. The cuffs being repaired, Joe, Pip, and Mr. Wopsle followed the soldiers out to the marshes, to watch the outcome of the manhunt. The soldiers overtook the two convicts in the midst of a struggle, and the convict Pip knew as the "young man" complained that the other (the convict Pip had first encountered) had tried to murder him. Pip's convict denounced the young man, saying he couldn't do better than to send this young "gentleman" back to the Hulks. Seeing Pip, he also confessed to having stolen food and a file from the village forge.

Also in the last issue, Pip described the beginnings of his education, at Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt's school; and we were introduced to Biddy -- a sweet-tempered, helpful little girl who officiates at lessons when Mr. Wopsle's great aunt (inevitably) falls asleep. Pip, beginning to learn to read and write, began to coach Joe too (Joe is illiterate except for his own name). One evening, in the midst of a mutual endeavor to spell, they were interrupted by Mrs. Joe and Uncle Pumblechook returning from the market. Mrs. Joe, excited, brought word that Pip was to go and play at Miss Havisham's in town. Miss Havisham is a rich, but reclusive, old lady.


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