Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 53

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 53

  • It was a dark and stormy night. Perfect weather for a nice hike through the freezing marshes, if you ask us. This is a GREAT idea, Pip. Go for a walk by yourself in the pitch black to meet an anonymous person who wrote you a creepy letter. Brilliant.
  • In any case, it's windy, cold, and dark, but Pip knows his way.
  • After an hour or so, he finds the sluice-house-thingy where he's supposed to meet the anonymous letter-writer. The sluice-house is near the lime-kiln.
  • The sluice-house looks empty and deserted, so Pip does what any sane person would do: he goes inside.
  • There's a candle on the table inside, but no one to be found. Pip picks up the candle, only to have the flame suddenly extinguished by someone and to have a noose thrown around his neck.
  • Pip is tied to a post, and his burnt arm hurts like crazy from having been manhandled.
  • Pip cries out in pain.
  • The mysterious man lights a fire, and Pip realizes that the man is Orlick.
  • Orlick rants to Pip about how Pip turned Biddy against him. He confesses to killing Mrs. Joe, but tells Pip that he (Pip) was the cause of Mrs. Joe's death, because he was always favored by Joe over Orlick when he was growing up, and because he made Orlick's life so miserable as a result.
  • Lunatic villain confession over, Orlick announces that he's going to kill Pip.
  • Orlick confesses that he was the man Pip tripped over on the stairwell the night Magwitch revealed himself as a benefactor. Orlick insinuates that he knows and has been in communication with Compeyson and knows that Pip and Magwitch are attempting to escape.
  • Orlick is drinking like a fish and his eyes are red. When his bottle is dry, Orlick grabs a stone hammer and gets ready to kill Pip.
  • Suddenly, a group of men burst into the house and attack Orlick, who only just manages to escape.
  • The men are Herbert, Startop, and Trabb's boy.
  • The boys untie Pip and take him to town. Instead of pressing charges, they decide it would be best to return to London immediately.
  • Herbert tells Pip that he found the mysterious letter on the apartment floor and decided to chase after Pip.
  • When they're back in London, Pip can't sleep at all and frankly isn't feeling too good, especially when he wakes up in the middle of the night thinking he he's overslept and that a whole day had passed. Okay, he's actually a little delirious.
  • But he manages to hold it together, and the next morning everything is ready to go.

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