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, we saw Pip enter his apprenticeship and grow steadily discontented with his station. Longing to be a gentleman (because of his longing for Estella), he eventually asked Joe for a half-holiday with which to pay a visit to Miss Havisham. This half-holiday was the occasion of some wrangling, as Orlick, Joe's journeyman laborer, demanded a half-holiday too. When Joe agreed, Mrs. Joe went "on the Rampage" about his wastefulness, which provoked Orlick. Orlick insulted Mrs. Joe, and Joe was obliged to fight him; yet the half-holiday was granted. Pip went to see Miss Havisham as he had intended, but found that Estella had been sent abroad for her education. Miss Havisham asked him, with "malignant enjoyment," whether he felt he had lost her?

While Pip was at Miss Havisham's, there was trouble at the forge -- Mrs. Joe was attacked. Pip, returning home to a scene of calamity, recognized the weapon -- Mrs. Joe had been struck from behind while Joe was out -- as the leg-iron of his convict. Mrs. Joe was not killed, but she was incapacitated; she can now do little but gesture and nod.

Also in the last issue, Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt died, and Biddy came to live at the forge. Pip confided his love for Estella to her, and -- aware of a more suitable possibility -- said he wished he could love her instead. "But you never will, you see," she replied. Pip was, nevertheless, indignant to discover that Orlick had taken a fancy to Biddy himself.


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