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Chapter 8: Breakfast and Arithmetic... Notes from Great Expectations

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Great Expectations Chapter 8: Breakfast and Arithmetic...

Pip spends the morning with Mr. Pumblechook at his drowsy seed-shop on the equally unexciting commercial street of town. Pip is glad to head off for Miss Havisham's, after a morning spent being drilled in arithmetic by Mr. Pumblechook.

Pip arrives at Miss Havisham's estate, a run-down mansion with a brewery next door. The place is called Manor House, or Satis. Satis, says Estella, the young woman who's been sent to escort Pip, means "satisfied" in some old language, though it's not the best choice of words to describe the place or its inhabitants.

Estella is particularly mean to Pip, calling him "boy" and mocking his thick boots and coarse hands. As if she weren't bad enough, there's Miss Havisham, who cuts a particularly creepy figure as she sits at a dressing table in an old, yellowed wedding gown. The room seems to be frozen in time, and Miss Havisham, dressed as a bride, looks more like a corpse. When Pip can't spontaneously start playing at her command, she has him call in Estella, so the two can play cards and the girl can heap more verbal abuse on Pip. When the game finishes, Miss Havisham demands Estella make Pip lunch and that Pip return after six days to "play" again.

While he waits for his lunch in the brewery yard, Pip broods over Estella's criticisms. He's sensitive, and close to tears:

"In the little world in which children have their existence, whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt, as injustice." Chapter 8, pg. 70

As Pip wanders the grounds, he keeps seeing Estella; it's as if she's everywhere at the same time. And then, as he's exploring the brewery, Pip sees what looks like Miss Havisham, hanging in her wedding dress from a ceiling rafter. When he looks again, however, she's gone, and then after one final insult, Estella lets him out through the gate. Pip starts his long walk home, still brooding on the new news that he's a "common labouring-boy," and that he is "in a low-lived bad way" (73).

Topic Tracking: Class 2

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