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Chapter 42: He Relates His Life and Adventures... Notes from Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Chapter 42: He Relates His Life and Adventures...

The "short and handy" version of Provis' story, as he tells it to Pip and Herbert, is as follows: "In jail and out of jail. In jail and out of Jail. In jail and out of jail" (401). Magwitch has been a petty criminal all his life, employed in large part by a man named Compeyson. Magwitch hates Compeyson, whom he describes as a well-groomed forger and counterfitter with a heart of stone. Ultimately, the two criminals were tried for the same crime and Compeyson got a reduced sentence on account of his well-bred looks and manners. It was revenge for this injustice, Magwitch explains to Pip, that led him to beat up Compeyson many years back out on the marshes as Pip, Joe and the others sent out to search for the two escaped convicts watched.

The convict continues ranting about Compeyson, telling a story that rings familiar: many years back Compeyson and a partner named Arthur were involved in a scheme to swindle a rich woman from her money. Afterwards, haunted by the spirit of this woman, "all in white," Arthur actually died of fright. As he's listening to the story, Herbert scribbles a note on the cover of a book, which he passes over to Pip. It says what any listener might conclude in this small world where no one is who they seem to be: "Young Havisham's name was Arthur. Compeyson is the man who professed to be Miss Havisham's lover" (409).

Topic Tracking: Class 11

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