Chapter 8 (Volume 1, Chapter 8) (Instalment 5):

At Miss Haversham's / Miss Havisham / Estella / I find that I am a low fellow

Synopsis of Chapter 8 (Volume 1, Chapter 8) (Instalment 5)

After a breakfast that Mr.Pumblechook turns into a lesson, they leave for Miss Havisham's house. The assured and scornful Estella appears and admits Pip to Satis House, but Mr.Pumblechook is turned away. Miss Havisham and her surroundings are strange and forbidding and Pip feels nervous and confused. He plays cards with Estella, who beats him, and also makes contemptuous remarks about his clothes and his social inferiority, reducing him to private tears, but when Miss Havisham asks him his opinion of Estella, he says that, although he does not like her, he wants to see her again.

After being fed, he wanders in the garden and the buildings of the disused brewery and glimpses Estella several times. Disdainfully, she shows him out and he goes home deeply affected by this first sight of a world beyond the village and the forge and is for the first time ashamed of his background.

Commentary on Chapter 8 (Volume 1, Chapter 8) (Instalment 5)

It appeared to me … so many little drawers in his shop A good example of how Dickens uses childhood perceptions.

She uttered the word with … a kind of boast in it Miss Havisham seems to have reached the stage of being proud of her broken heart.

‘With this boy! Why, he is a common labouring boy!' … - ‘Well? You can break his heart.' Pip hears, without fully understanding, how Miss Havisham intends to use him as a participant in a drama involving Estella. There is a marked difference between Pip's understanding and the reader's.

‘And what coarse hands he has! And what thick boots!' Estella picks on the visible marks of class difference, which were much more distinctive at the period when the novel is set than they are today. (See also Imagery and symbolism: Hands).

I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too Pip's disastrous desire to climb socially begins. He has just had a very valuable moral and spiritual lesson from Joe, but that is forgotten in his social shame.

I saw her pass … as if she were going out into the sky. Estella's name is derived from the Latin word for star, and she is often associated with light and distance. (See also Imagery and symbolism: Lamps, candles, torches and stars).

Investigating Chapter 8 (Volume 1, Chapter 8) (Instalment 5)
  • In the early part of the chapter, how is it possible to distinguish between the younger and elder Pip's estimation of Mr.Pumblechook's style of life and business?
  • Look at the language used to describe the brewery and Satis House
    • What impressions does it give, and by what means?
    • What is the irony of its name?
  • Look in detail at the language used to describe Estella at various points in the chapter
  • What do you think happens when Pip sees the awful vision of the hanging figure?
    • What aspects of the chapter help the reader to understand this strange event?
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