The next day, Pip goes to his home town to visit Miss Havisham. He tries to keep his presence unnoticed. Mrs. Havisham looks lonely, and Pip pities her despite the intentional injury she had done him.
She doubts that he is real, but he tells her he got her note yesterday and came down promptly. She tells him she doesn’t want him to consider her totally inhuman.
Miss Havisham has him state what he wants her to do for Herbert, but she doesn’t seem to follow him. He repeats it again. She asks Pip that if she gives him the money, will he keep her secret? He agrees. She asks if this will ease his mind, and he says it will. Miss Havisham asks if he is unhappy, and he tells her he has many reasons to be so. She asks if she can do anything for him, but he says no.
After hearing he is still friendly with Mr. Jaggers and that he has no problem receiving anything from him, she writes a note to the lawyer ordering that Pip be paid the sum he requested. Mrs. Havisham hopes that one day he will forgive her. He tells her she already has it. She kneels at Pip’s feet and laments, “What have I done?”
Miss Havisham realizes that she is responsible for turning Estella’s heart into ice. She had refused to turn to happier influences that could have healed her broken heart. Instead, she closed out the world and the sunlight, and indulged her anger and sorrow. Her mind became diseased.
She didn’t fully understand the consequences until Pip’s last visit to Estella. Pip tells her that she has done little to him, but if she can ever undo the harm she did to Estella, she needs to do it. She tells him she meant to save Estella from heartache. However, as Estella became more beautiful, she molded her into a weapon. Pip tells her that it would have been better to leave Estella her heart, even if it did get broken.
He tells Miss Havisham that he knows her history. He finds out that Mr. Jaggers was the one that brought her Estella. She had told Mr. Jaggers that she wanted a little girl, and he agreed to look for an orphan. This was when she first hired him, having heard of his reputation through the papers. She wanted a child to save her from her sorrow after she laid the house to waste. Estella was two or three at the time.
Pip leaves her and walks the grounds, reminiscing. Afterwards, he goes to check on Miss Havisham. He sees a flame spark from the fireplace and land on her dress. She bursts into flames and starts screaming, running towards him. Pip covers her with his coat and cloak to douse the flames, and then he pulls off the rotted tablecloth. The wedding cake falls and shatters, and a swarm of beetles spew out.
Pip realizes later that he has burnt his hands. Miss Havisham’s burns are serious, but the surgeon fears there is more danger from nervous shock. She is laid out on the table she had planned to be put on when she died. Though her wedding garment burnt away, she is wrapped in cotton wool. She still looks like a ghostly bride. The surgeon writes to Estella in Paris, and Pip writes to Matthew Pocket.
Miss Havisham continues to babble about what she has done and asking Pip’s forgiveness.