Booker says that when we first meet our protagonist in this stage, "they are likely to be in some state which lays them open to a shattering new experience." Hmm…shattering. What a destructive, violent word. What does that remind us of? Oh yes, that charming haven, Satis House where half-dead old ladies and man-eaters dwell. Pip is just a little six-year old boy when he first goes to see Miss Havisham, but it doesn’t take more than five minutes in her house before Pip starts to question his identity and to want something more in life. Pip knows the course of his life has been forever changed, and, even when he is discharged from Miss Havisham’s and pushed into a blacksmith’s life, all Pip has to do is to look at the sails on the horizon, and he gets giddy. He knows his fortune will come. And, boy, does it.
Pip is on his own with a bank account, living in one of the greatest cities in the world! Not only that, but he has a new BFF named Herbert who can show him all over town. Never mind the public yard where criminals are executed, the soot on his apartment window, or the labyrinthine streets. Pip is a gen-u-ine bachelor who can do things like buy his own furniture, go rowing, and order dinner from a coffee house.
It’s expensive keeping up with the Finches and their drinking habits. It’s expensive gallivanting around London and pretending like you are having a good time. The debts pile up, Pip and Herbert have to cut down on their meals and survive on things like Ramen noodles and hot pockets. And when the day finally arrives when his benefactor introduces himself to Pip, there’s a convict standing in the way. Oh wait, the benefactor IS the convict, and Pip’s dreams of marrying Estella diminish like sharpie on plastic. Booker says that in this stage, a "shadow begins to intrude, becoming increasingly alarming," and, this shadow is indeed Magwitch the convict. Pip grows more and more anxious about keeping Magwitch under wraps and about plotting to get him out of town and out of England safely.
What follows is a nightmare train that leads to Pip’s ultimate destruction. Nightmare #1: Pip, Herbert, Startop, and Magwitch are quietly (and uneasily) row, row, rowing the boat towards the Germany-bound ship when their boat is overtaken by the authorities. Nightmare #2: Magwitch is taken to prison where he grows very sick. Nightmare #3: His money is confiscated by the government. Nightmare #4: Pip watches him die. Nightmare #5: In the meantime, Herbert goes away to Egypt, and Pip is totally alone. Nightmare #6: Pip falls gravely ill, and there’s a new shadow in town whose name is "debt." The debtors come to take Pip to prison (remember the public yard where those who are in debt are hanged?), but Pip is too sick to go anywhere. He hallucinates that Miss Havisham is stuck in a furnace in the corner of his room. Both literal and figurative nightmares abound.
Great Expectations diverges a little bit from Booker’s Voyage and Return analysis simply because it has, like, ten million different endings. Just when we think the story has ended, Dickens gives us a little more information until we end with an Estella encounter.
Booker says that at this stage, the hero will "make the escape from the other world, back to where they started," and that we are all tuned into whether or not our hero has learned anything at all. Pip’s returns home to the forge, and it is quite clear he has learned humility and the errors of his ways. After begging Joe and Biddy’s forgiveness (and swallowing his shock at seeing the two married), Pip vanishes into the sunset (a.k.a. Cairo). While there, he stays in constant communication with Biddy and Joe and sends them money in order to pay them back. He returns eleven years later to find Joe, Biddy, and their babies, namely Pip, Jr. The real test of whether or not Pip has changed comes when he sees Estella. Though the two endings are very different, they show a similar Pip, a Pip who does not so easily sacrifice his identity in the name of a pretty lady he once loved powerfully.