Chapter 32 (Volume 2, Chapter 13) (Instalment 20):

A note from Estella / Wemmick at home in Newgate

Synopsis of Chapter 32 (Volume 2, Chapter 13) (Instalment 20)

Pip is thrown into agonized confusion by a letter from Estella commanding him to meet her off the coach. He goes absurdly early to the coach-office where he encounters Wemmick who invites him to go to Newgate Prison. It turns out that Wemmick's real function at the prison is to listen to statements and messages the convicts would not dare make to Mr. Jaggers directly.

The scene is full of desperate people dependent on Mr. Jaggers, who will not deal directly with them. Wemmick is forced to deputize for him in these grim activities. Pip returns to await Estella. He muses on the ways in which he keeps encountering both crime and convicts but concludes that crime should have nothing to do with Estella. It is one of the fleeting moments of introspection that have begun to occur in Pip's life.

Commentary on Chapter 32 (Volume 2, Chapter 13) (Instalment 20)

However, this is not London talk Wemmick's split character will not allow him to mix Walworth life with office life.

At that time … was still far off Dickens held strong views on the punishment of criminals. This description of the prison also has its place in the action and thematic material of the novel, as will become increasingly clear. (See also Imagery and symbolism: Chains, files and prisons).

with his post-office in an immovable state See Chapters 21 and 24 where Pip describes Wemmick's mouth as being like ‘a post-office' (i.e. a post box).

‘I should have asked the favour … in acknowledgement of your attentions.' This explains why Wemmick has such a collection of mourning rings, given to him by clients condemned to death but nonetheless grateful for the efforts of Mr. Jaggers and Wemmick on their behalf.

‘Why, then,' said the turnkey, grinning again, ‘he knows what Mr. Jaggers is.' Dickens leaves his readers, once again, to answer this question for themselves. (See the end of Chapter 26 for a similar moment.)

I very heartily wished … that I had some other guardian of minor abilities Pip feels very uncomfortable at the kind of work drawn to Mr. Jaggers by his abilities, but he cannot like the work or his guardian.

Investigating Chapter 32 (Volume 2, Chapter 13) (Instalment 20)
  • Re-read the last sentence of the chapter. What do you think is its meaning and what are its effects?
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