Chapter 58 (Volume 3, Chapter 19) (Instalment 36):

The Founder of my Fortunes holds forth / I am too late, and become penitent

Synopsis of Chapter 58 (Volume 3, Chapter 19) (Instalment 36)

As soon as he arrives at the Blue Boar, where he is given an inferior room, he realizes that the whole town knows about his loss of wealth. He visits Satis House which is being prepared to be sold at auction. At breakfast, he is confronted by Mr. Pumblechook who does his best to humiliate Pip in public. He sets off for the forge and dreams of the happy life he will lead when he has married Biddy. When he arrives, he finds that Biddy and Joe have married that day.

For once, Dickens uses a gap between paragraphs, perhaps to indicate the shock to Pip. Once again his dreams of a happy future have been brought suddenly to an end, and he is helped into the kitchen to recover, and is glad that he never shared his hopes with Joe. He announces that he is going abroad immediately, to earn the money to repay them. He begs their forgiveness for his bad behaviour towards them.

CairoHe soon leaves for Cairo to take up his post with Herbert. He then spends many happy years working in Egypt, writing to Joe and Biddy, paying off his debts, and eventually becoming a partner in the company - at which point Clarriker reveals to Herbert the secret of Pip's help. The company works hard for its money, and Pip's happiness and success can in a sense be seen as a kind of earthly reward for the moral struggle he has experienced in dealing with his great expectations.

Commentary on Chapter 58 (Volume 3, Chapter 19) (Instalment 36)

Stepping in for a … a stranger who had no business there Pip does not say that he now realizes he never had any business there, but he certainly has memories.

to wish your frame … to be stimulated by the 'olesome nourishment of your forefathers Mr. Pumblechook is mocking Pip‘s body, thin from his illness, but he unknowingly produces a moral truth that has already been made clear to the reader in the conversations of the previous chapter.

'This is him … from her own mother' We know from the opening of the novel that Pip's dead mother had been called Georgiana; this is the first time we are told that Mrs. Joe is called after her mother.

I went towards them slowly … further and further behind Perhaps for the first time Pip is not upset by the opinions of the locals.

'Don't tell him, Joe … you were so good and true' This is perhaps the greatest moral test that Pip faces. He is excluded from the idyllic life at the forge, which now seems like a lost Eden and, like Adam and Eve he must go out and experience a wider world.

'pray, tell me both that you forgive me!' This is another indirect religious reference. The request for forgiveness is a human request, as the word ‘pray' in Dickens' time could be used to mean something like ‘please', but the later repetition of the word makes it seem like a prayer.

I often wondered … had been in me Dickens makes it clear that Pip's moral journey continues.

Investigating Chapter 58 (Volume 3, Chapter 19) (Instalment 36)
  • Re-read what Mr. Pumblechook says in the Blue Boar
    • Note how effectively he gets under Pip's skin
    • Note also the stages by which Pip grows less affected by what he says.
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