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Chapter 22: Exchanging Confidences... Notes from Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Chapter 22: Exchanging Confidences...

The pale young gentleman--Herbert--and Pip are amused to remember their first meeting, and the ice thus broken, have a pleasant lunch together. Herbert isn't fond of Pip's Christian name, Phillip, and the two agree that he'll call Pip "Handel," after the composer. As they eat, Herbert tells Pip the story of Miss Havisham, interrupting his narrative every now and again to give Pip, the budding gentleman, some tips regarding his manners. He has learned his manners from his own father, who told him:

"... no man who was not a true gentleman at heart, ever was, since the world began, a true gentleman in manner... no varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself." Chapter 22, pg. 209

First, Herbert says that he was invited to Miss Havisham's, an invitation that he took as a trial during which the old woman could test him out as a potential suitor for Estella. Miss Havisham didn't take a fancy to him, however, and Herbert's relieved, for he finds Estella a mean match, "brought up by Miss Havisham to wreak revenge on all the male sex" (204). At this point, Herbert explains the source of this wrath against men. Miss Havisham was a spoilt child, daughter of a rich brewer whose wife had died when Miss Havisham was a baby. There was a half-brother, too, a bad egg who was nevertheless well-off because of his father's fortunes. When Miss Havisham got to be of marrying age, a certain man began to court her, a showy man who was not a proper gentleman. Herbert's father, Mr. Matthew Pocket, was Miss Havisham's cousin, and at that point had stepped in to warn her about the suitor. Miss Havisham would hear none of it and angrily ordered Matthew Pocket away--the two had not spoken since. Then, as feared, the suitor left Miss Havisham waiting on the supposed wedding day, sending a letter in his place. Brokenhearted, she stopped all the clocks at twenty 'til nine, and never again looked on the light of day. The theory, Herbert says, was that Miss Havisham's shady half-brother and the supposed bridegroom were in cahoots, and that the entire courtship had been a mere excuse to swindle the rich woman.

Topic Tracking: Love 5

Herbert and Pip continue talking, now on the subject of Herbert's prospects in life. Herbert says he's an insurer of ships, though as conversation progresses it's revealed that this is his ambition, not his job. His job is a non-paying one at a lousy counting house, though, Herbert says, it offers him exposure to various avenues to riches of which he will soon take advantage.

The two pass the weekend together and on Monday head off for Hammersmith, where Herbert's family lives. The house is a chaotic place with six little Pocket children tumbling about, watched over mainly by Millers and Flopson, hired caregivers. Mrs. Pocket is an odd and spacey character, she's always reading, and when one of her various children bumps into her it's consistently a surprise, as if she'd forgotten she had children. Mr. Pocket, Pip's tutor, appears at the end of the chapter, and not surprisingly he is described as perplexed and disordered looking, standing and watching the chaos of his family.

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