This question is regarding Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, Chapter 24 (also known as Volume II Chapter V).

Mr Jaggers has two casts in his office, revealed by Wemmick to be death masks of his former clients.

Wemmick says they are

Famous clients of ours that gave us a world of credit.

But he then reveals that these were the masks made after the criminals were executed

The cast was made in Newgate, directly after he was taken down

So my understanding is these were Mr Jaggers' clients and they were executed for their crimes.

If they were executed for their crimes, why did Mr Jaggers (the man hired to defend them) get a world of credit? Or am I misunderstanding the word 'client' here? Because it seems odd to me that he and Wemmick would keep reminders of their clients who were executed, rather than ones who they stopped from being executed.

Sorry if I am totally missing the point, which I feel I may be.

Many thanks

(I am quoting from 1996 Penguin Classics edition)

  • 3
    Just a quick note: You say “the masks made before the criminals were executed” which is either a typo or you misinterpret “The cast was made in Newgate, directly after he was taken down.” The “taken down” here refers to being taken down from the gallows. Aug 17, 2020 at 3:25

1 Answer 1


I read Dicken's GREAT EXPECTATIONS recently and I was 'creeped out' by those death masks that were hanging so indecorously in Attorney Jaggers office. I don't remember any of the characters offering any good reason to Pip for why they were there. The death masks just added a touch of the macabre and an unnerving presence to the ambience of the room. You would think that Jaggers would want to advertise his successes and not his failures, but he was enigmatic.

  • 1
    This answer could be helped it your provided some supporting evidence from text. Your thought may be correct but as it stands this is just opinion.
    – Skooba
    Aug 17, 2020 at 11:59

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