In his fourth year as an apprentice, Pip is listening to Mr. Wopsle read about a murder case in the newspaper at the Three Jolly Bargemen. Mr. Wopsle acts out the parts of the different people involved with the case, making it more dramatic but less factual. The group of men listening to him enjoys the performance and decide the defendant is guilty.
A stranger is watching this with a contemptuous look. When Mr. Wopsle finishes, the stranger asks the group if they have settled on the verdict of guilt to their satisfaction. Everyone agrees. The man asks them if they are aware that the law requires that every man be viewed innocent until proven guilty. Mr. Wopsle says he is aware of it. The stranger then asks Wopsle if he is aware that there has been no cross-examination of the witnesses, and the prisoner still has yet to put forth their defense. He shows Mr. Wopsle where this is mentioned in the paper. He then says they have no right to condemn a man before his side of the story is heard. The group starts doubting that their conception of Mr. Wopsle is correct.
The stranger then asks for Joe Gargery and his apprentice Pip. Pip recognizes the stranger as the man on the stairs he had met years ago at Miss Havisham’s. The stranger says he has a lengthy, personal matter to discuss with them and would prefer to do it at their residence.
When they reach the house, the stranger identifies himself as Jaggers, a lawyer in London. He is here on the business of his client. If his advice had been asked, he wouldn’t have approved of this being done—but his advice wasn’t sought, and he will fulfill his duties irregardless.
Jaggers tells Joe that he is here to take his apprentice from him so that he can have a better life. He asks Joe if he wants any compensation, and Joe says no. Jaggers tells Pip that he has great expectations. He will inherit some property someday, and the owner wishes for him to be brought up as a gentleman. Pip assumes Miss Havisham is his benefactor.
The lawyer tells him there are stipulations. He is always to keep his name Pip. His benefactor wishes to remain unknown until the time they choose to contact him. The person will eventually reveal themselves, though Mr. Jaggers doesn’t know when this will be. Pip is not to make an inquiry into the matter. All his dealings must be done through Mr. Jaggers. If Pip has a suspicion that he knows his benefactor, he should keep it to himself. Mr. Jaggers doesn’t know if these stipulations have a good reason behind them or whether they are just whims, but Pip must agree to uphold them if he accepts his great expectations.
Pip agrees. Jaggers tells him he is his guardian for now. He will provide him with an allowance so that he can acquire what he needs and pay for his education. He recommends a tutor—a Mr. Mathew Pocket. Pip remembers the name as a relation of Miss Havisham’s. Jaggers gives him money to buy new clothes.
Mr. Jaggers then remarks that Joe looks flabbergasted. Joe admits he is stunned. Mr. Jaggers tells him that he does have money to compensate Joe, but Joe refuses it. Mr. Jaggers looks like he thinks Joe is a total idiot, which Joe resents. Jaggers tells Pip that the sooner he is gone from this house, the better it will be for him in becoming a gentleman. He reiterates again that he is being paid for these services and has no personal interest in the matter.
Joe tells Biddy that Pip is to become a gentleman. Pip resents the sadness and wonder in their tones. Pip becomes gloomy as they talk about his going away. He wishes to avoid people making over him, and he doesn’t want to show off the new clothes he is going to buy or tell anyone else about his good fortune.