Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 17

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 17

  • Pip gets used to his blacksmith lifestyle, even if he's still a little mopey.
  • He also starts to notice that Biddy is all grown up with fancy hair-dos and high heels and pretty eyes.
  • One day, Pip is studying in the kitchen while Biddy sews near him, listening to him read aloud. She seems to be sponging up everything that he learns himself, all while taking care of daily domestic tasks, errands, and chores.
  • Basically, we kind of wish we were reading more about her and less about Pip's whininess.
  • Pip begins to think that Biddy must just be the perfect person to confide in, to express all of his melancholy emotions, as well as his hopes and dreams. (What, you say Biddy might have had hopes and dreams of her own?)
  • On Sunday, the two of them take a summer stroll on the marshes. It's a beautiful day, but Pip finally confesses his deepest secret to Biddy: he wants to be a gentleman more than anything in the world.
  • Uh, says Biddy, maybe you shouldn't spend your time wishing for something you won't ever have.
  • No way. Someone once told him that he was common, and that comment has been haunting him ever since.
  • Biddy tells him that the comment was neither polite nor true. She asks Pip who made the comment, and Pip tells her the most beautiful lady in the whole wide world said so, and he l-o-v-e-s her.
  • Very gently, Biddy points out that probably the best thing to do is just ignore her, since she's not worthy of him anyway, but Pip ignores this excellent advice.
  • Instead, he repays her by saying that he wishes he could make himself fall in love with her, because, if that were the case, everything would be okay for him.
  • He's a real charmer, that Pip.
  • Suddenly, Orlick shows up out of the graveyard and menaces them a little. Biddy tells Pip that she doesn't like Orlick. She tells him that Orlick likes her and flirts with her mercilessly, against her will.
  • Ooh, Pip doesn't trust that guy.
  • Pip realizes that he's starting to get used to the whole blacksmith thing, especially now that his sister is incapacitated. He begins to imagine himself living with Joe for the rest of his life and eventually marrying Biddy.
  • And then everything changes.