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Summary Chapter 8

 

CHAPTER 8

Pip gets the opportunity to examine Mr. Pumblechook’s shop, which is full of packaged seeds and bulbs. All the tradesmen seem to keep an eye on each other, with the exception of the watchmaker, who seems absorbed in his tasks.

Pip doesn’t enjoy his visit. Mr. Pumblechook shares Mrs. Joe’s ideas that Pip shouldn’t be indulged in any way. He tests Pip on arithmetic first thing in the morning before breakfast. Though uneasy about what he is to do at Miss Havisham’s, Pip is glad to escape his uncle.

Miss Havisham lives in a brick house whose windows are either covered with iron bars or walled up. There is a large brewery on the side of the house that is not in use.

A young girl, very proud and pretty, comes to the gate after verifying their identities. The girl tells Mr. Pumblechook that his presence is not wanted. Seeing Pip eye the brewery, she tells him it will never brew again—but there is enough beer in the cellars to flood the house. Pip realizes the girl is the same age as him, though she acts like she is superior to him. Her beauty and self-possession makes her seem older.

The house is dark. She tells him to enter a room, saying she is not going in. Pip enters a large, well-lit dressing room. It is lit by candles, not by sunlight. There is a woman half-dressed in a wedding gown. Other dresses and items are half packed in trunks or scattered around. Pip realizes the wedding dresss hasn’t recently been put on. It was put on years ago on the young woman this lady had been, and she has never taken it off. Pip also notices that all the clocks are stopped at twenty minutes to nine.

Miss Havisham asks Pip if he is afraid of a woman who hasn’t seen the light of day since his birth. Pip is frightened of her, but he lies. She seems to take pride in having a broken heart. She says she has odd whims, and one of those whims is to watch a boy play. She orders him to play. Pip is too unnerved to acquiesce. He tells her that the situation is too new, too weird, and too melancholy. Miss Havisham remarks that the house is old and familiar to her, but she too finds it melancholy.

Miss Havisham orders Pip to call Estella. She orders a reluctant Estella to play cards with Pip, telling Estella that she can break Pip’s heart. Pip notices that everything in the house had stopped years ago. Everything has remained where it is.

Estella criticizes how Pip calls knaves Jacks, how coarse his hands are, and how thick his boots are. Pip starts feeling ashamed of things he never gave a thought about before. Miss Havisham asks Pip what he thinks of Estella. When he is unwilling to say, she tells him to whisper it in her ear. Pip says he thinks Estella is very proud, very pretty, and very insulting. He tells Miss Havisham he wants to go home, though he admits he would like to see Estella again. Miss Havisham tells him to come again in another six days. She orders Estella to give him something to eat and to allow him to roam the property.

Pip is near tears at Estella’s continued rudeness. She notices this and looks pleased. He hides and cries, venting his frustration. Finally, he explores the property. It seems Estella is always nearby. Finally, she lets him out the gate and asks why he doesn’t cry. She knows he was crying earlier.

Pip returns to his uncle’s shop and tells the shopman that Miss Havisham wants to see him in another six days. He then starts the long trip back home, unhappy about how lowly he is. 

Charles Dickens