Summary: Chapter 31
Pip and Herbert go to the theater, where Wopsle plays a ridiculous Hamlet. Pip takes the hapless actor out to dinner following the play, but his mood remains sour.
Summary: Chapter 32
Pip receives a note from Estella, ordering him to meet her at a London train station. He arrives very early and encounters Wemmick, who takes him on a brief tour of the miserable grounds of Newgate Prison. Pip feels uncomfortable in the dismal surroundings, but Wemmick is oddly at home, even introducing Pip to a man who has been sentenced to death by hanging.
Summary: Chapter 33
When Pip meets Estella, he is again troubled by her resemblance to someone he can’t place. She treats Pip arrogantly, but sends him into ecstatic joy when she refers to their “instructions,” which makes him feel as though they are destined to be married. After he escorts her through the gaslit London night to the house at which she is staying, he returns to the Pockets’ home.
Summary: Chapter 34
Pip feels terribly guilty for his snobbish treatment of Joe and Biddy, and he feels as though his degenerate lifestyle has been a bad influence on Herbert. The two young men catalog their debts, but they are interrupted by a letter carrying the news that Mrs. Joe has died.
Summary: Chapter 35
Pip is surprised by the intensity of his sadness about his sister’s death. He returns home at once for the funeral. He meets Pumblechook, who continues to fawn over him irritatingly. He tries to mend his relations with Joe and Biddy; Biddy is skeptical of his pledges to visit more often. Pip says goodbye to them the next morning, truly intending to visit more often, and walks away into the mist.
Summary: Chapter 36
Pip’s twenty-first birthday finally arrives, meaning that he is an adult and will begin to receive a regular income from his fortune rather than having to go to Jaggers to access his money. He feels a great sense of excitement, because he hopes that his entrance into adulthood will cause Jaggers to tell him the identity of his mysterious benefactor. Despite Herbert’s warning, he feels increasingly certain that it is Miss Havisham and that she means for him to marry Estella. But during their interview, Jaggers is cold and brief; he reveals nothing about the source of Pip’s fortune, simply telling him that his income will be five hundred pounds a year and refusing to take responsibility for the outcome. For some reason, the encounter reminds Pip of his meeting with the convict in the graveyard so many years before. Still, Pip invites Jaggers to participate in his birthday dinner, but Jaggers’s oppressive presence makes the evening less enjoyable for Pip and Herbert.
Summary: Chapter 37
Upon receiving his income, Pip decides to help Herbert by buying Herbert’s way into the merchant business. He asks Wemmick for advice. At Jaggers’s office (in Chapter 36), Wemmick cynically advises Pip not to help Herbert, but later, at the Castle (where Pip also meets Wemmick’s girlfriend, Miss Skiffins), he jovially offers exactly the opposite advice and agrees to help Pip with the scheme. They find a merchant in need of a young partner, and Pip buys Herbert the partnership. Everything is all arranged anonymously, so that Herbert, like Pip, does not know the identity of his benefactor.
Summary: Chapter 38
Pip spends a great deal of time with Estella in the house of her London hostess, Mrs. Brandley. However, he is not treated as a serious suitor. Rather, he is allowed to accompany Estella everywhere she goes, watching her treat her other suitors cruelly but being more or less ignored himself. He cannot understand why Miss Havisham does not announce the details of their engagement, in which he continues to believe. Pip and Estella go to visit the old woman, and Pip observes for the first time a combative relationship between her and Estella: Miss Havisham goads Estella on to break men’s hearts, but Estella treats Miss Havisham as coldly as she treats her suitors. Shortly thereafter, Pip learns to his horror that Drummle is courting Estella. He confronts Estella about the news, but she refuses to take his concern seriously, reminding Pip that he is the only suitor she doesn’t try to deceive and entrap. But this only makes Pip feel less important to her. That night, the young man imagines his fate as a heavy stone slab hanging over his head, about to fall.