Great Expectations Chapter 11 Summary

Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson we will summarize chapter 11 of 'Great Expectations'. In this chapter Pip sees Miss Havisham's uneaten wedding feast, he fights a young man, and gives Estella a kiss. We will also examine the dramatic irony in this chapter.

Chapter 11

Chapter 11 in Great Expectations goes over Pip's second visit to Miss Havisham's. In the past week he has increasingly felt more disdain towards Joe and others who are 'common' and not like Miss Havisham and Estella. The gap between social classes has become even more apparent to him.

In this chapter, Pip sees more of the upper class. This causes him to become ever more ambitious. He also continues to fall more in love with Estella through this chapter. Estella continues to be very rude and mean to him, yet at the same time, she leads him on with things like letting him give her a kiss.

We also continue to see just how messed up Miss Havisham is, but Pip continues to have hopes and dreams of living up to Estella's standards. Despite Pip's hopes, we, as the readers, begin to see the irony in the situation. Dramatic irony is a literary or stylistic device which is used when someone is acting in a way that is completely different than the expected outcome would indicate. In dramatic irony, the character is not aware of the expected outcome and the reader is.

The Second Visit

Pip is again greeted at the gate of Manor House by Estella. Once again she ignores him except to bark orders at him and keeps referring to him as 'boy'. She leads him to a different room than the one before, where there are several people that he does not know. Pip stands by the window watching everyone, but no one pays him any attention.

When Estella asks Pip what he thinks of her he tells her that she is very pretty and not as insulting as the last time. She decides to put him in his place by slapping him. She then asks him again what he thinks of her. He does not respond and she tries to goad him into crying again. When Pip does respond, he says 'I'll never cry for you again,' but quickly tells us, the readers, that this is false as he is indeed crying on the inside for her.

Despite Estella's cruelty Pip continues to fall in love with her. Her envies her fine station in life and thinks the only reason she doesn't like him is because he is too lowly.

The Wedding Feast

When Pip is brought to Miss Havisham she asks him to play again and he says he would rather not. Then, she asks if he will work. When he gladly agrees to this arrangement she sends him into the next room. This room is dark and cold. Pip soon notices mice, bugs, and mold all over the food on the table in the center of the room.

When Miss Havisham comes in she declares that this is where she will be laid when she dies. She then explains that this was her wedding feast. At this point we still do not know exactly what happened, but as Miss Havisham is in her wedding dress, and the wedding feast is laid out but not eaten, we can assume that she was to be married, but for some reason it didn't happen.

Miss Havisham shows Pip the wedding feast that is now covered with bugs, mold, and mice
Wedding feast

At this point we truly begin to see how crazy Miss Havisham is. Pip always feels strange around her, yet still admires her for her social status and wealth.

Estella now comes in with the others. We learn that these are Miss Havisham's relatives and that today is her birthday. The relatives express their concern for Miss Havisham, which she brushes away and we learn that this wedding was to occur on her birthday many years ago.

Estella and Pip once again play cards and Estella ignores Pip. After playing, Estella brings Pip to the garden again 'to be fed in the former dog-like manner.'

The Fight and Kiss

While in the garden Pip comes across another young man. He immediately challenges Pip to a fight. Pip is scared watching this young man prepare to fight, thinking that although he didn't look healthy he must be really good at fighting.

The young man challenges Pip to a fight
The fight

However, Pip soon learns that the boy is not as good a fighter as he is. Pip never gets hit, but manages to knock the boy down each time. Yet Pip respects the spirit of the boy because he keeps getting back up. Eventually the boy says that Pip has won and they cordially part ways. This young man represents the courage that Pip believes men of a higher social rank should possess.

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