Chapter 17 (Volume 1, Chapter 17) (Instalment 10):

A change in Biddy / I confide in Biddy

Synopsis of Chapter 17 (Volume 1, Chapter 17) (Instalment 10)

Time passes and Pip visits Satis House on successive birthdays, as commanded by Miss Havisham. Estella is still away. Biddy grows up and Pip patronizes her, fails to perceive her feelings for him and confesses his obsession with Estella. They talk of what it means to be a gentleman, and why Pip aspires to be one. Pip's inner struggle is revealed. Even in his obsession with Estella, he cannot fail to see Biddy's superiority in so many ways. Completely self-centred, he even declares that it would be better for him if he could fall in love with Biddy.

Orlick accosts them and is discouraged by Pip at Biddy's request. She does not like Orlick near her because she knows he is attracted to her. Pip is indignant that Orlick should admire her. He remains intensely confused, sometimes drawn to think contentedly about life with Joe and Biddy, but ultimately distracted by the expectation that Miss Havisham may indeed ‘make his fortune' in time.

Commentary on Chapter 17 (Volume 1, Chapter 17) (Instalment 10)

if my time had run out Pip is referring to his time bound as apprentice to Joe.

I began to consider … wholesomely situated Pip's infatuation with Estella doesn't entirely blind him to Biddy's loving nature and willingness to put him first.

Some confounding remembrance … like a destructive missile Pip shows considerable insight about the negative influence exercised by Miss Havisham on his life but is powerless to resist

Perhaps after all Miss Havisham was going to make my fortune This ‘expectation' still has Pip in its grip and makes him unable to settle for what he has.

Investigating Chapter 17 (Volume 1, Chapter 17) (Instalment 10)
  • Look at the beginning and the end of the chapter
    • What differences are there in the language compared with the language of the conversation in the rest of the chapter?
  • How would you describe the development of Pip's perceptions in this chapter?
  • In what ways is Pip's character changing?
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