Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 38

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 38

  • Pip is spending most of his days hanging out in Richmond with Estella. There, Estella's being introduced to society by means of one of Miss Havisham's old (and wealthy) friends.
  • It's awful, because Estella basically just uses him to make the other boys jealous and then teases him for not taking a hint.
  • Eventually, they decide to go visit Miss Havisham together.
  • Miss Havisham is weird. No, seriously, folks. Dickens describes Miss Havisham as "weird," and we couldn't agree more.
  • Miss Havisham is delighted to see Estella, is more obsessed with her than ever before, and wants to know how Pip has been used by Estella too.
  • At night, the happy family gathers by the fire, and Miss Havisham makes Estella describe all of the men who are in love with her.
  • Observing this scene, Pip realizes that Estella is Miss Havisham's guided missile, designed to wound and destroy every man that comes in her path. But somehow, he still convinces himself that she's going to marry Pip.
  • The three are enjoying the accounts of the poor men who love Estella, when Estella decides to unhook her arm from Miss Havisham's arm.
  • BIG mistake. Miss Havisham goes ballistic, accusing her of being ungrateful and cold. Uh—you made her that way, lady.
  • Miss Havisham demands her love, and Estella replies (calling her "mother by adoption") that she can't give what she doesn't have.
  • It looks like Miss Havisham's guided missile had become misguided and has struck home.
  • While Miss Havisham rocks back and forth and moans, Pip decides to go for a walk. A splendid idea. When he returns, Estella is kneeling at Miss Havisham's feet and knitting.
  • It's as though their argument never happened, and Pip tells us he never witnessed another argument like it ever again.
  • Pip spends a very restless night, and then ends by talking about Bentley Drummle, the spider. One day, Pip is hanging out with the Finches at their club. Drummle tells the boys that he's pursuing Estella, and that's she totally into him.
  • Pip sees red. He accuses Drummle of lying, which is a big deal. The society decides that Drummle has to provide evidence that he's dating Estella, which Drummle easily does. He shows the boys a note Estella had written him.
  • Ouch.
  • At a party soon after, he watches Drummle flirt with Estella all night. Pip approaches Estella and asks her why she allows someone as spider-ly as Drummle to hang out with her.
  • Estella tells him she does so to have a certain "effect" on her other suitors, but not on Pip.
  • Why? Does Pip really want her to deceive and entrap him?
  • Well, kind of. He knows that this means he doesn't stand a chance with Estella, that she has plans for Drummle, and that he's farther away from her than he's ever been.

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