Coming ashore one night a week later, Pip runs into Mr. Jaggers, who invites Pip home to dinner with him and Wemmick. Mr. Jaggers' informs Pip that Miss Havisham has requested that Pip visit her. To Pip's 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 could keep her through strength (by beating her). Mr. Jaggers describes Drummle as the sort of man who either "beats" or "cringes."
More evidence of the relish Mr. Jaggers' takes in those parts of human nature that are furthest from integrity or generosity, the kinds of behaviors that feed his law practice and make him money.
Watching 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 feels sure that Molly is Estella's mother.
Pip was likely unable to make the connection between Molly and Estella before because they seemed so different from one another in terms of class or background.
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 of strangling a much larger woman who may have had an affair with Molly's husband. At the time, Molly was living on the streets as the fiery, jealous wife of an older husband. All evidence pointed to Molly's guilt but Mr. Jaggers' defended her and won her acquittal by making her wear clothes that made her arms look so delicate that she would appear incapable of strangling someone. He also attributed the scratches on the backs of her hands to brambles. The court thought the scratches were her toddler daughter's, whom they suspected she had murdered to get revenge on her husband. Jaggers' responded that the potential murder of the child was not the crime on trial. The case made Mr. Jaggers' reputation. Molly had been his maid ever since.
Molly's trial bears an uncomfortable resemblance to Compeyson's. As in Compeyson's case, the court is convinced of Molly's innocence based on her appearance rather than on hard evidence. Mr. Jaggers' bragged about Molly's wrists in Chapter 26, suggesting he has always known that she was strong enough to strangle someone. Did Mr. Jaggers' win an acquittal for a guilty woman, in the case that made his reputation and built his practice? Is his law firm built on protecting criminals from justice?