Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 23

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 23

  • Mr. Pocket welcomes Pip warmly, but his wife is not so interested. The only thing Mrs. Pocket is interested in is her daddy, because her daddy was a knight who believed he was meant to be a baron.
  • Mrs. Pocket was raised to be decorative and ornamental, which is not really the kind of lady who you'd think would go off and have eight kids, but, whatevs.
  • Pip meets the two other young men he will be studying with at Mr. Pocket's house: Drummle, "an old-looking young man, who was whistling" (23.4), and Startop (a young man who was reading a book while holding his head as though it were about to explode.)
  • Pip soon figures out that the Pocket household is run by its servants; namely Flopson and Millers. The servants wear the pants. They have parties and get drunk in the kitchen, they forget to take care of the baby, they order Mrs. Pocket around.
  • It's a weird place—very Alice in Wonderland, if you ask us.
  • Mr. Pocket is a brilliant scholar and he makes a living teaching and writing books.
  • Pip learns from the "toady" neighbor, Mrs. Coiler, that Mrs. Pocket hates that Mr. Pocket has to make a living by teaching others.
  • Mrs. Coiler is a snake-like lady who likes to compliment everybody about everything. She's a bit slimy, to be honest.
  • Pip learns that Drummle's first name is Bentley and he most likely will become a baron one day. He and Mrs. Pocket hit it off by commiserating about their nobility.
  • A Sound of Music  moment arrives when the seven Pocket children are summoned to the dinner table. Flopson lines them up, army style.
  • Mrs. Pocket wants to hold the baby, but she's really bad at being motherly and, well, careful. The baby almost slips under the table, and then its head crashes on top of the table.
  • While she talks to Drummle about her daddy the knight, the baby starts to cry. Jane Pocket, a little, teensy girl, sneaks over to soothe the baby, but Mrs. Pocket yells at her and tells her to go lie down.
  • Now the baby is playing with a nutcracker! That's safe!
  • Mr. Pocket gives his children each a shilling.
  • Despite all this craziness, it's good times in the Pocket household. The boys (Pip, Startop, Drummle, and Herbert) go rowing every evening.
  • One night, Pip witnesses yet another domestic crisis while sitting with Mr. and Mrs. Pocket in the living room. A servant tells Mr. Pocket that the cook is drunk and passed out in the kitchen. Mr. Pocket goes down to the kitchen to investigate. He also finds a bunch of pilfered butter grease.
  • When he reports back to his wife, Mrs. Pocket is super mad and defends the cook's honor and sobriety. Apparently the cook had always told her she was fit to be a duchess.
  • Mr. Pocket is about to go crazy up in here.

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