Great Expectations

Great Expectations


Charles Dickens

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Great Expectations: Book 1, Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

During the next week, Pip is anxious that he will be punished for hurting the pale young gentleman in their fight, and suspects that either the law will come down on him or Miss Havisham herself will seek revenge. But when he returns to Miss Havisham's he is surprised to discover that he faces no punishment whatsoever, that the fight goes entirely unacknowledged.
Pip is confused both about what constitutes a crime and who executes justice, worried that winning a consensual sports match may be criminal and unsure of whether justice should be carried out by the impartial state or by individuals seeking revenge.
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That day at Miss Havisham's, Pip agrees to return every other day to walk her or wheel her in a chair. This 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 his experiences at Miss Havisham's except for Biddy, who expresses concern that, at the time, he did not understand. Meanwhile, Mrs. Joe and Uncle Pumblechook enjoy imagining Miss Havisham's future patronage of Pip. One day, Miss Havisham tells Pip it's time he was apprenticed to Joe and asks Pip to bring Joe with Pip's indentures. Back at the forge, the news that Miss Havisham has asked to see Joe (and not her) inspires Mrs. Joe's jealous fury.
Biddy can see that Miss Havisham's behavior is disturbing in ways that Pip, at the time, is not fully aware of. Again, the reality of Pip's experience with Miss Havisham contrasts starkly with Mrs. Joe and Uncle Pumblechook's fantasies of it. Miss Havisham does not seem to have any grand plans for Pip—she simply expects that he will become an apprentice and then a tradesmen, the typical life trajectory for Pip's class. Indentures are the legal contracts binding an apprenticeship.
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