Great Expectations

Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Book 1, Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Pip returns to Miss Havisham's the next week and is told by Estella to wait in a gloomy sitting room where Miss Havisham's relatives Camilla, Sarah Pocket, Georgiana, and Raymond are talking. From listening to snippets of their talk, Pip can tell "they were all toadies and humbugs." Estella returns and leads Pip to Miss Havisham, stopping along the way to ask him whether he still finds her pretty and insulting. When Pip replies that she seems less insulting, she slaps and berates him. Pip tells her he'll never cry for her again, a claim the adult narrator states was false. On the stairs, they run into a dark, sharp-eyed man who tells Pip to behave himself. Upstairs, Pip helps Miss Havisham walk laps around the dining room table which is covered in a cobwebbed, moldy wedding feast, decayed beyond recognition. She tells Pip that this is the table she'll be laid out on when she dies.
Pip is surrounded by fraudulence and self-deception, from the hypocritical adults in the sitting room to Estella's bait-and-switch routine on the stairs, from the presumptuous stranger who tells obedient Pip (rather than the misbehaving Estella) to behave, to the rotting wedding table that perverts an image of new life (a marriage celebration) to a grim image of death (a funeral).
Themes
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Miss Havisham has Pip call for Estella who comes with Camilla, Sarah Pocket, Georgiana, and Raymond following behind her. These four try to engage Miss Havisham in conversation as she and Pip walk: Camilla professes to be sick with worry about Miss Havisham, while Sarah Pocket attempts to expose Camilla as a fraud. They both lament Matthew Pocket's thoughtless absence. After they leave, Miss Havisham tells Pip that it is her birthday, and that these four visit her each year on that day though they are always afraid to mention the occasion outright.
Miss Havisham's relatives are acting as if they have a generous concern for her, but that Miss Havisham knows is insincere. Her relative's efforts to endear themselves to Miss Havisham and competitiveness for her affection suggest they are motivated by personal gain. They probably hope Miss Havisham will leave them her fortune after she dies.
Themes
Generosity Theme Icon
Pip and Estella play cards and Miss Havisham points out Estella's beauty. Pip wanders out onto the grounds and finds "a pale young gentleman" in the ruined greenhouse. He challenges Pip to a fight and Pip reluctantly agrees, assuming he'll lose. He is astonished to discover that he is a much stronger fighter than the pale young gentleman, who falls again and again but remains in good spirits, cheerfully announcing that Pip has won. When Pip meets Estella outside, she's flushed and tells Pip he may kiss her on the cheek, a permission Pip can't help feeling unsatisfied by.
Although Pip initially calls the boy a "gentleman" because of his appearance and his eagerness to box (a genteel sport), the boy proves he is noble in spirit, not just breeding, when he shows good sportsmanship and generosity towards the victor. Estella has clearly been excitedly spying on the fight (which explains her flush) and allows Pip to kiss her because his win elevates her opinion of him.
Themes
Social Class Theme Icon
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon