Great Expectations

Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Book 3, Chapter 49 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Next day, Pip visits Miss Havisham, who is melancholy and distracted and tells him she wants to show Pip that she "is not all stone" by helping him help Herbert. She agrees to anonymously supply nine hundred pounds towards Herbert's career.
Miss Havisham wants to redeem her image in Pip's eyes by proving she is capable of generosity.
Themes
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
Showing tender concern for Pip's unhappiness, Miss Havisham hopes Pip will someday be able to write out "I forgive her" under her name. Pip responds that he can forgive her now, that he has made far too many of his own mistakes to begrudge Miss Havisham hers.
Pip's readiness to forgive Miss Havisham shows he has matured as a character. His own struggles have made him more compassionate and less begrudging. He is more like the kind, gentle boy he once was.
Themes
Justice Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
Miss Havisham kneels at Pip's feet crying "What have I done!" She tells him that witnessing him profess his true love for Estella reminded her of the true love she herself felt in the past and made her realize she had raised Estella wrongly. She tells Pip that she had originally only meant to save the girl from her own misery, but had gradually done worse as Estella grew older, depriving Estella of a human heart.
Watching Pip express such selfless compassion rekindled a sense of compassion in Miss Havisham herself—generosity breeds generosity; integrity inspires integrity. She regrets having raised Estella as a puppet, with no life or heart of her own, to play out her own revenge fantasy.
Themes
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Parents Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
Pip asks about Estella's past. Miss Havisham tells him Mr. Jaggers brought Estella to Satis House after Miss Havisham asked him to find her an orphan girl. She does not know whose Estella's birth parents are.
Miss Havisham may not know who Estella's parents are, but Mr. Jaggers probably does...
Themes
Parents Theme Icon
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Pip takes a farewell walk around the grounds and, seeing again his childhood vision of Miss Havisham hanging from a brewery beam, returns upstairs to check on her one last time before leaving. There, sparks from the hearth set Miss Havisham on fire and Pip tackles her to kill the flames, burning his arms. On the ground, the two struggle "like desperate enemies." All of Miss Havisham's wedding clothes are burned away but she survives, albeit with injuries. Lying in semi-conscious delirium all night, Miss Havisham repeatedly asks for Pip's forgiveness.
There is an implication that Miss Havisham is trying to kill herself. The sight of Pip and Miss Havisham wrestling each other recalls Provis and Compeyson's struggle on the marshes. In saving Miss Havisham from the fire, Pip symbolically also frees her from her bitterness and anger, as the wedding gown that she has worn for the twenty years since her betrayal by Compeyson burns away. As Miss Havisham's pleas for forgiveness indicate, the vengeful part of her has died in the fire.
Themes
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon