Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 8

By Charles Dickens

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Chapter 8

  • Pip spends the night at Mr. Pumblechook's in the attic, where the ceiling is like two inches from his eyebrows. Mr. Pumblechook is a seedsman, meaning he sells lots of seedy stuff. He also wears corduroys. A lot of corduroy goes on in the seed store.
  • In the morning, Mr. Pumblechook pours Pip milk with water in it and bread with only a teensy amount of butter.
  • To top it off, Mr. Pumblechook quizzes Pip on his multiplication tables while munching on the equivalent of an Egg McMuffin with bacon.
  • Mr. Pumblechook and Pip walk over to Miss Havisham's. It's a big, dismal mansion with lots of bars, gates, and boarded up windows. There's a vacant brewery too. They ring the bell and wait for someone to unlock the gate.
  • That someone arrives and is kind of cold and snippy. She's a young girl, and she doesn't let Mr. Pumblechook inside.
  • She tells Pip that the house has two names: the manor house and Satis House. "Satis" means "enough" in either Greek, Hebrew, or Latin—she's not quite sure.
  • (Too bad she didn't have Shmoop to tell her that it's Latin.)
  • Anyway, the little girl tells Pip that, when it was first built, the builders thought that whoever owned the house could want nothing more in life.
  • The little girl is Pip's age, but she calls Pip, "boy."
  • She's also really pretty. This is important.
  • They walk into the dark house, and the girl heads him down a series of cold, dark passages.
  • She tells him to go inside a closed door, and inside he sees a dressing table and the whole room, though dimly lit, looks like a lady's dressing room.
  • Someone's in there.
  • It's the weirdest lady he's ever seen in his life. She's old and she's wearing beautiful clothes. Well, they would be beautiful, if they weren't so old that they were yellowy-brown.
  • Uh, it's also a wedding dress, which is SO CREEPY.
  • The lady only has one shoe on, and there's a tattered veil in her hair. There are jewels and gloves and lace on her dressing table, and half-packed trunks of dresses are lying around everywhere.
  • The lady herself is pretty freaky looking, too, kind of a cross between a skeleton and a mummy. She's got deep sunken eyes, and her hair is all white.
  • Pip realizes that all of the clocks in the room are stopped at exactly twenty minutes to nine.
  • Seriously, if we were Pip we'd be so out of there right now.
  • Instead, Pip stays. Miss Havisham (that's her name) tells Pip that she has a broken heart and then commands him to play.
  • Uh, how does one play on command? That violates the laws of playing. It's like anti-play.
  • Pip, showing good sense, feels the same way, and he's frozen in his tracks.
  • Miss Havisham asks Pip to call for Estella (which we guess is the little girl's name). He does, but he's not happy about it.
  • Well, how would you feel if you were forced to yell a name like "Estella" into a dark, cold, empty mansion with a creepy, half-dead lady watching you?
  • Miss Havisham makes Pip and Estella play cards, and Estella rolls her eyes about having to play with a "common" boy.
  • They play the age-old classic, Beggar My Neighbor, and Estella kicks Pip's butt.
  • She also kicks his little heart around a little, making fun of him for calling "knaves," "jacks"; and making fun of his coarse hands and thick boots.
  • Pip doesn't know what to do with himself. He's never doubted his hands, boots, or jacks before. What is going on? Aren't mid-life crises supposed to happen in the middle of life?
  • Miss Havisham asks Pip what he thinks of Estella, and he tells her that he thinks she's proud, insulting, and pretty. You know, just your average pre-pubescent heartbreaker.
  • Oh, also he'd like to go home. NOW.
  • Miss Havisham tells Pip to come back in six days, and she orders Estella to give him some food.
  • They walk down the pitch-black passages again, and Pip is weirded out by the sunshine outside. He thought for sure it would be dark out there too, you know, like when you go see a movie in the middle of a sunny day and then walk outside.
  • Estella brings him beer, bread, and meat and leaves it on the porch for him as though she were feeding a dog.
  • Naturally, Pip starts to cry, which totally pleases Estella, and then she leaves him outside. Pip has to kick a wall a little bit and twist his hair in order to get his tears and emotions out.
  • He's never felt so degraded ever, and—instead of dismissing Estella as a stuck-up little brat—he wishes he had nicer clothes and softer hands.
  • But then he drinks some beer and eats some meat, and he feels better.
  • He starts to look around the "garden" and it's in need of an Extreme Makeover. Everything is dead and withered. (We're thinking that's symbolic.)
  • He explores the brewery, too. The weird thing is that everywhere he goes, Estella is there too, but just ahead of him. It's like she's following him, but leading him at the same time. She climbs a ladder/stair in the brewery, and it looks like she's climbing into the sky.
  • Then, suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Pip sees something hanging from a rafter at the other end of the brewery. He looks closer, and the thing is a figure of a woman all in white, and the face is of Miss Havisham. Logically, he runs toward the hanging figure.
  • (Shmoop interlude: Do not try this at home. Shmoop endorses the "if you see a white humanlike figure hanging from a rafter, turn and run" policy).
  • But there's nothing there at all. Spooky!
  • Finally, Estella leads him to the gate and then gets in another jab at him for crying (because she was apparently spying on him) before pushing him out onto the street and locking the door behind him. Charming.
  • All the way home, Pip thinks about his coarse hands and his thick boots.

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