Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 48

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 48

  • After rowing one day, Pip wanders around feeling totally depressed.
  • He runs into Jaggers on the street, and Jaggers invites him to dinner. Pip accepts, because, well, what else is he going to do?
  • While at Jaggers', Wemmick gives Pip a message addressed to him from Miss Havisham, requesting that he come visit so that they can talk about financing Herbert's career.
  • Jaggers spills the beans that Estella's been married to Drummle and predicts that Drummle the spider will start beating her, and Pip is even more heartbroken and astonished.
  • As they're eating dinner, Molly the housekeeper gets yelled at for being slow. Pip watches her carefully for the first time because he recognizes something about her. Her gestures are familiar to him, and they remind him of Estella's gestures when she's knitting.
  • Wha??????????
  • Pip's internal monologue is going crazy, but he decides not to pursue this discovery at the dinner table.
  • Later on, as he's walking home with Wemmick, Pip asks him to tell Molly's story.
  • This is Molly's story (according to Wemmick):
  • Molly was one of Jaggers' clients back in the day. She was very pretty and was said to have "gipsy blood." She was accused of murdering another woman out of jealousy, even though this woman was much older, much bigger, and much stronger.
  • The woman was found dead in a barn after what appeared to be a huge struggle. There were scratch marks and bruises everywhere.
  • Jaggers dressed Molly in a very dainty outfit one day during her trial and argued that she was so small and dainty and was incapable of killing a little fly, let alone an adult woman.
  • At the time, it was suspected that Molly had killed her child in order to spite her husband, a point that the prosecution brought up at trial in order to cast Molly as a jealous woman.
  • Jaggers, though, argued that if the scratch marks and bruises that appeared on the backs of Molly's hands were rendered by the child she had murdered, she had yet to be charged for that crime. By tearing down the prosecutor's implications, Jaggers got Molly off the hook, reminding the jury that she was being accused of killing a grown woman, not a child.
  • Immediately afterward, Molly went to work as Mr. Jaggers' housekeeper, as she was totally freaked out by the fact that she was almost sentenced to death.
  • Pip asks Wemmick if he knows the sex of Molly's dead child, and Wemmick tells him the child was a girl.
  • Pip's mind is spinning.