Great Expectations

Great Expectations

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The adopted daughter of Miss Havisham, Estella is proud, refined, beautiful, and cold, raised by Miss Havisham to wreak revenge on the male sex. Though her beauty and elegance attract countless suitors (including Pip), Miss Havisham has raised her to lack a true human heart and she is unable to love.

Estella Havisham Quotes in Great Expectations

The Great Expectations quotes below are all either spoken by Estella Havisham or refer to Estella Havisham. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Great Expectations published in 2001.
Book 1, Chapter 9 Quotes

…my young mind was in that disturbed and unthankful state that I thought long after I laid me down, how common Estella would consider Joe, a mere blacksmith: how thick his boots, and how coarse his hands. I thought how Joe and my sister were then sitting in the kitchen, and how Miss Havisham and Estella never sat in a kitchen, but were far above the level of such common things.

Related Characters: Pip Pirrip (speaker), Estella Havisham, Joe Gargery, Miss Havisham, Mrs. Joe Gargery
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

After his conversation with Joe, Pip becomes perturbed at how Miss Havisham and Estella would think of his pseudo-father. Instead of heeding Joe’s advice, he is consumed by anxiety about social class and how others may interpret Joe’s behaviors.

This passage shows how Pip is becoming increasingly aware of and unhappy about his social status. He focuses on specific signifiers of that status—“how thick his boots, and how coarse his hands”—that would allow Estella to observe that Joe performs physical labor for a living. Similarly, he notes that certain spaces, such as a kitchen, as only inhabited by members of lower classes. We can see how Pip is training his own eye to interpret indicators of social class and how important Estella has become to his consciousness. After just one interaction with her, Pip is already filtering his perceptions of even his closest family members through her judgmental eyes.

The retrospective narrator notably implies that these thoughts are unreasonable and negative, considering it “that disturbed and unthankful state.” Dickens indicates that by the time the older Pip is recounting this story, he has realized that Joe was a meaningful and important character—and that he should not have regarded him with this type of disdain. Thus we can guess that Pip will eventually come to hate how judgmental he has become and that the older Pip believes the younger one should regard Joe in particular with more compassion.

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Book 1, Chapter 15 Quotes

I wanted to make Joe less ignorant and common, that he might be worthier of my society and less open to Estella's reproach.

Related Characters: Pip Pirrip (speaker), Estella Havisham, Joe Gargery
Page Number: 84
Explanation and Analysis:

Pip begins to give Joe weekly lessons. While they might seem to come from a spirit of goodwill, he explains here that they are partially selfish: an effort to be less embarrassed by Joe in front of Estella.

Pip here adopts an increasingly judgmental and patronizing tone. He describes Joe as “ignorant and common” and positions himself as a kind educator. That Pip differentiates “my society” from Joe’s shows just how snobbishly distant he has become from his upbringing. Their respective societies, after all, are not yet different in any real way—but Pip feels them to be so, based off of his education and experiences with Miss Havisham and Estella. His distaste of Joe is thus twofold: the result of how he perceives Estella would react, as well as his own personal dissatisfaction at having to communicate with someone not worthy of his society. Beyond establishing Pip’s increased social snobbishness, Dickens stresses how extensively Pip’s recent experiences have corrupted his moral sensibilities: even actions that seem to be generous carry a hidden motive, predicting the frequent deceit Pip will encounter when he leaves for London later in the novel. There, a whole host of characters will pretend to aid each other with the actual goal of elevating themselves in society.

Miss Havisham and Estella and the strange house and the strange life appeared to have something to do with everything that was picturesque.

Related Characters: Pip Pirrip (speaker), Estella Havisham, Miss Havisham
Related Symbols: Satis House
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

Pip plans to visit Miss Havisham’s house (Statis House) after an extended absence. He reflects here on the way he continues to idealize the dwelling and those within it.

This description is deeply ironic in its use of the term “picturesque.” The term means, in a general sense, pretty or attractive, but it has a specific connotation of quaintness and delicacy. Recall that Satis House is decrepit, Miss Havisham is a deranged parody of upper class sensibilities, and Estella is a mean-spirited critic of Pip’s every action. None of this is particularly picturesque. Yet Pip reduces these qualities to the even-keeled word “strange,” thus focusing on their unusual and alluring nature, as opposed to what is actually quite negative about the strangeness.

The next phrase is similarly ambiguous. Instead of directly saying that he enjoys or idealizes their house and life, Pip obscures his point with a series of odd qualifiers. The helping verb “appeared” indicates that they are not actually picturesque, and the phrase “something to do with everything” marks the fragility of this relationship. Thus Dickens shows how deeply Pip’s assessments of upper class life have been warped by his emotional connection to Miss Havisham and particularly Estella. He is unable to actually observe what is picturesque or not—and he can only form bizarre connections based on his intuitive attraction to their lifestyle.

Book 2, Chapter 33 Quotes

"We have no choice, you and I, but to obey our instructions. We are not free to follow our own devices, you and I."

Related Characters: Estella Havisham (speaker), Pip Pirrip
Page Number: 207
Explanation and Analysis:

Contrary to Pip’s hopes, Estella still remains extremely distant. Here she summons their need to remain separate and conform to social mandates instead of personal desires.

Her ambiguous comment has a series of different interpretive layers. In the most direct sense, she means that in the moment they must take the carriage at once to Richmond. More broadly, she implies that Miss Havisham has selected a destiny for her in Richmond that leaves her “no choice” as to who she will marry—or who she will be close to. Both characters must “obey [the] instructions” of their benefactors and are therefore unable to follow their “own devices.” More broadly, the line speaks to the way all the characters of the novel are enmeshed in their social systems, leaving them with relatively pre-determined and pre-scripted lives. Estella’s comment taunts Pip precisely because it speaks to both their banal social interaction and to a fundamental issue of human free will.

Yet while Estella’s tone is cold, she also makes a notable attempt to parallel her and Pip’s experiences. Before, Pip has been distraught that he and Estella lead different lives, and he desperately wishes to inhabit her same social sphere. Her comment seems to indicate that he has succeeded—particularly due to the way she follows each clause that begins with “We” with the reiterating “you and I.” Estella insists on equating them in the style of her sentence, even as the meaning of the sentence stresses how they must remain separate. Dickens suggests that the characters are united, oddly, precisely in the way they are both socially contained.

Book 2, Chapter 38 Quotes

"I am what you have made me. Take all the praise, take all the blame; take all the success, take all the failure; in short, take me."

Related Characters: Estella Havisham (speaker), Miss Havisham
Page Number: 238
Explanation and Analysis:

When Estella pulls away from Miss Havisham, the older woman grows possessive. The two quarrel in front of Pip for the first time, and Estella makes this comment on how all her actions are the result of her upbringing.

With characteristic coldness, Estella describes her behaviors in a deterministic way. She reasons that she cannot be judged accountable for them because, as Miss Havisham’s pet, all her behaviors are the direct result of Miss Havisham herself. The repeated use of the word “all” to apply to “praise” and “blame,” “success” and “failure” highlights that Estella is entirely the result of Miss Havisham’s work. Her language denies any separate sense of self—as if this heritage absolves her of any moral guilt or even free will.

As we have seen before, however, the content of Estella’s language contradicts the way in which she speaks. She may be claiming that Miss Havisham dictates her life, but she is also rebelling with that exact statement. Her declarations are phrased as commands, and her language is curt, in particular the phrase “in short.” Dickens implies that Estella is rejecting Miss Havisham in the only way that she can: by employing Miss Havisham’s exact tactics against her. The very coldness that has been cultivated so carefully in Estella is now turned on its creator—but the extent to which she is intentionally doing so remains up for debate.

Book 3, Chapter 44 Quotes

"Miss Havisham gives you to him as the greatest slight and injury that could be done to the many far better men who admire you, and to the few who truly love you. Among those few, there may be one who loves you even as dearly, though he has not loved you as long as I. Take him, and I can bear it better for your sake."

Related Characters: Pip Pirrip (speaker), Estella Havisham, Miss Havisham, Bentley Drummle
Page Number: 284
Explanation and Analysis:

When Pip finally confronts Miss Havisham and Estella at Satis House, he expresses his deep love for Estella. He begs her not to marry Drummle, but rather to select someone who truly cares for her.

This passage characterizes Pip’s increasingly selfless behavior. He does not phrase his criticism of Drummel in terms of personal motivation, but rather is perturbed by how it is “the greatest slight and jury” to a variety of “far better men.” That is to say, Pip is more concerned with the theoretical ethics of Miss Havisham’s cruel act than with his own desires to be with Estella. Though he reiterates his love, he actually points out that “there may be one who loves you even as dearly”—thus accepting both that he will not marry Estella and that someone else may have sentiments that equal his own. Pleading that she “take him” thus reflects an entirely earnest wish that Estella be happy in her marriage, whether or not it's to Pip.

Pip’s moving speech is thus an affront to Miss Havisham in two ways: first, because it directly criticizes her actions for how cruel they are to Estella and other men, and second because it expresses an entirely honest, selfless, and non-manipulative sentiment. Miss Havisham has taught Estella to be cruel partly out of a world-view that love is empty and disingenuous, but Pip’s wish that Estella be happy above all expresses a true and total love—providing the counterexample to Miss Havisham’s beliefs. Though his love for Estella has previously driven Pip to deceptive and crooked actions, here it causes him to act fully nobly—a critical indicator of his personal development.

Book 3, Chapter 49 Quotes

"Believe this: when she first came to me, I meant to save her from misery like my own. At first I meant no more…But as she grew and promised to be very beautiful, I gradually did worse, and with my praises, and with my jewels, and with my teachings, and with this figure of myself always before her, a warning to back and point my lessons, I stole her heart away and put ice in its place"…[Miss Havisham] burst out again, What had she done!

Related Characters: Miss Havisham (speaker), Estella Havisham
Page Number: 313
Explanation and Analysis:

During Pip’s visit, Miss Havisham repents the way she has raised Estella. She claims that her intentions were originally relatively kind but became crueler as Estella grew older.

Though we should remain skeptical of Miss Havisham by this point in the novel, her tone does seem honest and repentant. That she originally “meant to save [Estella] from misery like [her] own” casts Miss Havisham’s intent as selfless, even feminist: her goal was to protect her daughter from being preyed upon by men, and thus she prevented her from forming emotional attachments. Yet Miss Havisham was, in a sense, herself seduced by Estella’s beauty—for it was only as Estella aged and became increasingly attractive that Miss Havisham sought to cultivate a true monster.

Her language highlights the power of her own teaching: a combination of “praises” and “teachings,” with the monetary addition of “jewels” allowed Estella to become fully inhuman. Her “heart” is replaced with “ice”—speaking to the entirely cold way she treats everyone around her, even Miss Havisham herself. This passage parallels in many ways Pip’s own regret at being deceived by money and by the teachings of the upper class—though Miss Havisham regrets the role of the teacher instead of the student. Dickens thus gathers the characters together, at the novel’s end, in a common narrative of realization and regret. Inspired by Pip’s own selflessness, Miss Havisham concludes that her own tactics have been similarly diabolical.

Book 3, Chapter 59 Quotes

"…now, when suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be. I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape."

Related Characters: Estella Havisham (speaker), Pip Pirrip
Page Number: 380
Explanation and Analysis:

In the novel’s final scene, Pip and Estella reunite at the remnants of Satis House. Estella comments on her tortuous marriage with Drummle and how it has changed her character deeply from the one that Miss Havisham crafted years before.

Estella juxtaposes two forms of teaching: the “suffering” she experienced in her marriage and “all other teaching” that had been provided by Miss Havisham. Whereas the second type had given her an emotionally-vacant heart of ice, the first has allowed her to make sense of human emotions. Evidently, Estella has experienced great physical and/or psychological abuse, implied by the phrase “bent and broken,” which can operate both literally and metaphorically. Like Pip, she has gone through a period of maturation and learning and come to reject her colder, judgmental personality. Dickens portrays their journeys as parallel ones, indicating they may finally come together at the novel’s end.

Yet while Estella considers these experiences to have improved her character, she continues to use oddly-aloof language. She considers herself “a better shape,” a phrase that makes her a tool, much as Miss Havisham always had. And she is able only to “understand” Pip’s heart, not actually reciprocate or feel the emotions. It remains unclear, then, whether the two will actually unite, but Dickens at the very least affirms how their parallel sufferings have brought them together at last.

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Estella Havisham Character Timeline in Great Expectations

The timeline below shows where the character Estella Havisham appears in Great Expectations. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 8
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...in an environment so "new," "strange," "fine" and "melancholy." Miss Havisham has Pip call for "Estella" and the young girl who led Pip in appears. In response to Miss Havisham's suggestion... (full context)
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...away for a snack. Pip feels dazed and humiliated by what just transpired. Back downstairs, Estella lays Pip's food in front of him on the ground and looks delighted by Pip's... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 9
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...and asks Pip what possessed him. Pip tells Joe the truth about the day, including Estella's insults and his shame at being "common." Joe replies that lies are lies, no matter... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 11
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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,... (full context)
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Miss Havisham has Pip call for Estella who comes with Camilla, Sarah Pocket, Georgiana, and Raymond following behind her. These four try... (full context)
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Pip and Estella play cards and Miss Havisham points out Estella's beauty. Pip wanders out onto the grounds... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 12
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...continues for eight to ten months. During this time, Miss Havisham continues to point out Estella's beauty to Pip, whispering fondly to Estella, "Break their hearts!" Pip tells no one about... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 14
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...despair from Joe. All of the places and activities that had delighted him before meeting Estella now disappoint him because he knows she would consider them coarse and common. Pip describes... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 15
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...educate Joe so that Joe "might be worthier of my society and less vulnerable to Estella's reproach." (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 17
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...his dissatisfaction with the blacksmith trade and his wish to be a gentleman to disprove Estella's disdain for his commonness. At the same time, he admits he would have been happier... (full context)
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...walk on and Pip, thinking how miserable he would be if he were walking with Estella, tells Biddy he wishes he could get himself to fall in love with her. "But... (full context)
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...Pip himself goes back and forth between believing Biddy and forge life are superior to Estella, then remembering the Havisham days and growing dissatisfied and ambitious again. (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 19
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Pip lies down at the battery and falls asleep, daydreaming of Estella. Pip is awakened by Joe, who has followed him. Pip tells Joe he will never... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 22
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...Miss Havisham sent for him to see if he might be a suitable betrothed for Estella (she'd decided not). Herbert criticizes Estella for being cruel and haughty, and explains that she... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 27
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...Joe tells Pip he has only come to convey a message from Miss Havisham: that Estella is home and would like to see Pip. Joe says Biddy had encouraged him to... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 29
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...protect the house from convicts and intruders. When he enters Miss Havisham's room, he finds Estella home from France and transformed into a beautiful, graceful woman. (full context)
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Pip and Estella walk in the garden and recount old times. Estella notes the changes in Pip and... (full context)
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Back in the house, Miss Havisham speaks frenziedly to Pip about Estella, telling him to "...love her, love her!" no matter how Estella hurts him. She tells... (full context)
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Mr. Jaggers has come by on business and he, Miss Havisham, Sarah Pocket, Estella, and Pip have dinner together. Mr. Jaggers is unaffected by Estella's beauty and ignores her.... (full context)
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...Pip's mind and he feels grateful, convinced that Miss Havisham is his patron and that Estella must therefore be destined to be his wife. The adult Pip narrator cringes to remember... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 30
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Back at Barnard's Inn, Pip tells Herbert about his love for Estella and is shocked to hear Herbert already intuited it. Herbert reveals that he too believes... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 32
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Pip receives a note from Estella informing him that she is coming to London and that Miss Havisham wants him to... (full context)
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...on the marshes. He tries to shake off the dust and scent of Newgate. When Estella arrives, he again wonders who it is she reminds him of. (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 33
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Upon meeting Pip, Estella is all business, informing him he must procure her some tea and accompany her in... (full context)
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At tea, Estella tells Pip that Sarah Pocket, Georgiana, Camilla, and Raymond resent Pip and are futilely trying... (full context)
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Pip leaves Estella in Richmond, and imagines how happy he would be if he lived with her, even... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 38
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Still lovesick for Estella, Pip visits her often at Richmond. Pip is on more familiar terms with Estella than... (full context)
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One day, Estella informs Pip that Miss Havisham has asked him to escort her to Satis House. There,... (full context)
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Later in the visit, Pip witnesses Miss Havisham and Estella argue for the first time in his presence. When Estella pulls away from Miss Havisham's... (full context)
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...Grove meeting some time later, Drummle tells Pip that he has made the acquaintance of Estella. Pip hotly contests it and challenges Drummle to a duel, which is cancelled once Drummle... (full context)
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When Pip confesses to Estella that he is jealous of the attention she gives Drummle, Estella asks him almost angrily... (full context)
Book 2, Chapter 39
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...news. He is devastated to realize that Miss Havisham is not his patron and that Estella, therefore, isn't destined for him. He is even more devastated to realize that he has... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 43
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Pip resolves to see Estella and Miss Havisham before he invites Provis to go abroad (on the pretence of shopping... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 44
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Pip goes to Satis House and explains to Miss Havisham and Estella that he has met his patron but doesn't say who it is. He asks Miss... (full context)
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Pip professes his love for Estella and explains he has long refrained from courting her directly because he assumed they were... (full context)
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When Pip confronts Estella about Drummle, she tells Pip she is going to marry Drummle. In despair, Pip begs... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 47
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Pip passes several anxious weeks heartbroken by Estella and worried about Provis. Deeply in debt, Pip owes creditors but gives Provis' unopened pocketbook... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 48
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...great discomfort, Mr. Jaggers' then talks about Drummle, "the Spider," and his recent marriage to Estella. Mr. Jaggers' speculates that Drummle may lose Estella because of his dull wits, though he... (full context)
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...Molly wait on them, Pip suddenly realizes to his amazement that she is the person Estella has continually reminded him of. He sees how much they look like each other and... (full context)
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Walking alone with Wemmick after dinner, Pip finds out that Wemmick has never seen Estella and asks Wemmick to recount Molly's history. About twenty years ago, she had been accused... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 49
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..."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... (full context)
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Pip asks about Estella's past. Miss Havisham tells him Mr. Jaggers brought Estella to Satis House after Miss Havisham... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 50
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Pip realizes that Provis is Estella's father and tells Herbert. (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 51
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...Miss Havisham's money for Herbert. Pip tells Mr. Jaggers' that he not only knows who Estella's mother is, but who her father is too. Pip can tell from Mr. Jaggers' surprise... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 57
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...amounts of money to all her other relatives, leaving the bulk of her fortune to Estella. Orlick is in jail for robbing and torturing Uncle Pumblechook. (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 59
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...coaxes Pip to marry and, when Pip says he is settled in bachelorhood, asks about Estella. Pip says he no longer pines for her. (full context)
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Still, Pip secretly wishes to revisit the site of Satis House for Estella's sake. He has heard that she has been abused by and separated from Drummle, who... (full context)