Chapter 42 (Volume 3, Chapter 3) (Instalment 26):

He relates his Life and Adventures / He continues his Narrative / The end of the Narrative

Synopsis of Chapter 42 (Volume 3, Chapter 3) (Instalment 26)

Magwitch's life story is one of abandonment, neglect, crime and punishment, culminating in his transportation. His life changed when he met Compeyson, the man Pip saw him fighting in the ditch (Ch.5; Vol.1, Ch.5), and became involved in fraud, forgery and money-laundering. He replaces Arthur, a dying man, who had been Compeyson's accomplice in swindling a great deal of money from a rich woman. Compeyson binds Magwitch to him by making him swear on the Bible. When they come to court, Compeyson's defence counsel is able to use his client's gentlemanly background to make Provis seem like the real criminal.

While listening to this story Herbert writes a note to Pip to say that Compeyson must be the man who jilted Miss Havisham, for her young relative was called Arthur. The elements of the plot are beginning to come together.

Commentary on Chapter 42 (Volume 3, Chapter 3) (Instalment 26)

‘So fur as I could find … or took him up' To be ‘taken up' is to be arrested. His Christian name recalls Abel, the son of Adam and Eve, who was killed by his brother Cain (see Genesis 4:1-8). Provis has always been a victim.

‘They always went on … mustn't I?' Attempts to instill some religion into the young Magwitch have failed: he is more concerned to ensure that he has enough to eat.

‘And over where her heart's broke - you broke it - there's drops of blood.' Compare this passage with the description of Miss Havisham in Ch.8; Vol.1, Ch.8.

‘warn't it Compeyson … bad company' Compeyson has deceived the court and shifted the blame to Magwitch, largely because of their different class backgrounds.

‘I ain't a-going to be low, dear boy!' Magwitch is determined to rise above his ‘lowness' in order to be fit company for the gentleman he has made.

Investigating Chapter 42 (Volume 3, Chapter 3) (Instalment 26)
  • Re-read the account in Chs 1, 3 and 5; Vol. 1, Chs 1,3 and 5) of Magwitch's reactions to Pip
    • Compare this with his behaviour since re-entering Pip's life
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