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Summary Chapter 17



Pip’s life becomes very routine, the only remarkable occurrence being when he visits Miss Havisham on his birthday. Even this follows the same protocol. Miss Pocket lets him in, he has a brief interview with Miss Havisham, she gives him the same description about Estella, and then she gives him a guinea when she dismisses him. He at first refuses it, but she got angry—thinking he wanted more.

The house never changes, and Pip wonders if stopping the clocks stopped time itself. Yet, this atmosphere influences him into hating his lowly life.

Biddy changes quite a bit, becoming more attractive despite her plainness. She manages the house very well and has a sweet nature.

Pip buys books to improve his knowledge. He is rather proud of the little he knows, for it came at a great expense. Biddy is a fellow student and is able to keep up—even though he never sees her study. She even knows the terms and tools for Pip’s trade.

Pip remarks that Biddy makes the most of every opportunity. She takes great pride in being Pip’s first teacher, and he begins to wonder if he showed her enough gratitude.

On Sundays, Joe takes care of his wife so that Pip and Biddy can go out for a walk. Pip confides to Biddy that he wants to become a gentleman. He tells her he hates his life. He admits he never would have been discontented if he had never met Estella and had been made aware of how common he is.

Biddy thinks Pip would be better off not caring for Estella’s opinion and considering that she isn’t really worth it. Pip admits this might be true, but he admires her, even though she would make him miserable.

Biddy is glad that he confides in her. Pip wishes he could fall in love with Biddy and forget Estella.

They come across Orlick. Biddy wants to avoid him, not because she believes he attacked Mrs. Joe, but because she suspects that he likes her.

Pip sometimes convinces himself he is happy and no longer cares about Estella. However, any memory of Miss Havisham destroys this falsehood. 

Charles Dickens