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Book Notes

Chapter 49: I Visit Miss Havisham Again... Notes from Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Chapter 49: I Visit Miss Havisham Again...

Pip travels to Miss Havisham's, and finds the old woman sitting before a fire, acting strangely meditative. She turns to Pip and says she wishes to talk some more about the request Pip made for her to take over the payments to Herbert's employer. Miss Havisham seems changed; she watches Pip as he explains his request with a look somewhere between inquiry and fondness. The cruelty of her actions seems to have finally hit her, and she breaks down, crying "What have I done!" and even falls to her knees before Pip and begs his forgiveness.

Perhaps it is because Estella has really married Drummle, the brute, that Miss Havisham seems to be cracking in her stony resolve. At any rate, Pip is disturbed by the old woman's drama:

"I knew not how to answer, or how to comfort her. That she had done a grievous thing in taking an impressionable child to mould into the form that her wild resentment, spurned affection, and wounded pride, found vengeance in, I knew full well. But that, in shutting out the light of day, she had shut out infinitely more; that, in seclusion, she had secluded herself from a thousand natural and healing influences; that, her mind, brooding solitary, had grown diseased, as all minds do and must and will that reverse the appointed order of their Maker; I knew equally well." Chapter 49, pg. 465

Pip assures Miss Havisham that she may clear him out of her conscience, but Estella, he says, is another matter. He asks her a few questions about Estella, and how she came into Miss Havisham's care, and the old woman's answers confirm his suspicions that Estella is Molly's daughter.

Topic Tracking: Love 11

Pip leaves the room, though returns a few minutes later on some odd presentiment. Just as he walks through the door, the old woman's dress catches fire, and Pip wrestles her to the ground to smother the flames. Both of them are burned, Miss Havisham so badly that she is wrapped in gauze and laid out on the bridal table, in a sort of hideous echo of her normal white bridal gear. The doctor warns that there is danger of her going into nervous shock.

Topic Tracking: Identity 10

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