Chapter 37 (Volume 2, Chapter 18) (Instalment 22):

Another Pilgrimage to the Castle / I take Wemmick into confidence / I befriend Herbert without his knowing it

Synopsis of Chapter 37 (Volume 2, Chapter 18) (Instalment 22)

Pip wants to do something secretly to help Herbert and over a series of visits to Walworth, with the assistance of Miss Skiffins' brother, an accountant, he arranges to give his friend enough money to work with Clarriker, a young merchant, where there is a chance that he will be taken into partnership.

He learns that Wemmick gave up the wine trade when the Aged went deaf, and took to the law to support his parent, even though he clearly hates it. Miss Skiffins is, an odd, eccentrically dressed but good-natured woman, who is apparently a frequent visitor, and of whom Wemmick is clearly very fond.

Pip is delighted by Herbert's relief and happiness and the chapter ends with Pip hinting that a turning-point in his life is about to be reached.

Commentary on Chapter 37 (Volume 2, Chapter 18) (Instalment 22)

I devoted the ensuing Sunday afternoon to a pilgrimage to the Castle. ‘Pilgrimage' fits the tone of Dickens' writing, and the word also suggests the religious idea of a journey of faith. This corresponds to the events of the rest of the chapter: Pip is doing something kind out of the goodness of his heart, and to atone for leading Herbert astray. (See also Structure: Moral structure).

‘No, to be sure; you're right.' This nonsensical reply by the Aged to Pip's question about Mr. Jaggers fits in to the long list of cautious and mysterious statements made by people when referring to lawyers, including Jaggers.

Having thought of the matter with care … This is devilish good of you and Before a week was out … to think that my expectations had some good to somebody Many of Dickens' first readers would have recognized the parallel between the Bible's exhortation not to seek for recognition of one's good works and Pip's desire to help Herbert by stealth: see Matthew 6:1-4.

‘Ecod,' replied Wemmick, shaking his head, ‘that's not my trade.' ‘Nor is this your trading place,' said I. Wemmick has still not quite shaken off the professional caution he leaves behind each day in the City. ‘Ecod' is a euphemism - a way of calling on the name of God without blaspheming.

Investigating Chapter 37 (Volume 2, Chapter 18) (Instalment 22)
  • Re-read the paragraph beginning, ‘It was worth any money to see Wemmick …'
    • Compare its language and tone to the last paragraph of Chapter 36.
  • Consider the ways in which Pip describes the people and the events of this chapter
    • What do we learn about his feelings at this time?


Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.