Free Study Guide for Great Expectations by Charles Dickens-Book Summary
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The action of Great Expectations
takes place in a limited geography between a small village at the edge of
the North Kent marshes, a market town in which Satis House is located, and the
greater city of London. The protagonist, Pip, grows up in the marsh village. Eventually
he becomes a frequent visitor to Satis House, located in the market town. Upon
inheriting a good deal of money, he moves to London, where he is taught to be
a gentleman. Throughout the novel, Pip travels between these three locations in
pursuit of his great expectations.
LIST OF CHARACTERS
Pip - Philip Pirip
He is the narrator
and hero of the novel. He is a sensitive orphan raised by his sister and brother-in-law
in rural Kent. After showing kindness to an escaped convict, he becomes the beneficiary
of a great estate. He rejects his common upbringing in favor of a more refined
life in London, unaware that his benefactor is actually the convict. By the end
of the novel he learns a great lesson about friendship and loyalty, and gives
up his “great expectations” in order to be more true to his past.
A simple and honest blacksmith, and the long-suffering husband
of Mrs. Joe. He is Pip’s brother-in-law, as well as a loyal friend and ally. He
loves and supports Pip unconditionally, even when Pip is ashamed of him and abandons
him. By the end of the novel, Pip realizes the true worth of Joe’s friendship.
A bitter and eccentric old lady who
was long ago jilted on her wedding day. She continues to wear her faded wedding
gown, though it is old and yellowed. The cake, rotted after all these years, still
adorns her dining room table. Twisted by her own hatred and resentment, she lives
in cobwebbed darkness with her adopted daughter Estella, whom she has raised to
be a man-hater.
The beautiful adopted daughter of Miss Havisham. Haughty and contemptuous,
she is a girl with a very cold heart. She has been brought up to wreak revenge
on the male sex on Miss Havisham's behalf. She is honest with Pip when she tells
him she is incapable of returning his love.
known as Provis and Campbell)
convict who initially bullies Pip into bringing him food and a file. Unbeknownst
to Pip, the convict later rewards him by bequeathing him a large amount of money
anonymously. He comes back into Pip’s life when Pip is an adult, revealing himself
as the donor, and asks for help in escaping the death sentence he has been given
as a result of his life of crime.
Pip’s sister. She is a short-tempered woman who resents
Pip because he is a burden to her. She is attacked with a leg-iron and spends
the rest of her life unable to communicate because of a brain-injury. She learns
to be patient and forgiving as a result of the attack.
Pip's confidante and teacher. As a child, she develops a crush
on Pip. She runs the house after Mrs. Joe’s accident and later marries Joe.
A parish lay clerk who had formerly wanted to
be a clergyman. He leaves his church to become a not-so-successful actor in London.
His “great expectations” are in comic parallel to Pip’s.
Joe's uncle. He joins Mrs. Joe in bullying and resenting
Pip, then takes some credit for Pip's good fortune.
Friends of Mrs. Joe.
Joe's employee. He is an evil character who attacks Mrs. Joe and also attempts
to take Pip's life. Later he robs Mr. Pumblechook and ends up in jail.
A criminal lawyer in London. He is well respected
in his own dubious social circle, and is most well known for his ability to defend
even the dregs of society. He is the administrator of Pip’s inheritance.
Jaggers' confidential clerk. He is a good-natured
man in his personal life, but is incredibly stern and officious in his professional
life. Pip often remarks that Wemmick has two personalities. He becomes an advisor
and friend to Pip.
and artlessly optimistic best friend. Though living in genteel poverty, he is
an example of an uncommon gentleman.
Mr. Matthew Pocket
Pip’s teacher and Herbert’s father. He is a thoroughly educated gentleman under
whom Pip is to learn. He is the only member of the family who does not flatter
Mrs. Havisham; as a result, she is not happy with him.
A sulking brute who eventually marries Estella then mistreats
A tenant of Mr. Pocket and a friend
Jaggers’ housekeeper. She was once
accused of murder but acquitted. She turns out to be Estella’s mother.
Wemmick’s girlfriend and later, bride.
Herbert Pocket’s girlfriend and later, bride.
The old widow with whom Estella lives in
An elderly woman at whose
house Pip and Herbert lodge Magwitch in order to hide him.
Magwitch's onetime partner in crime. It is his fault Magwitch is
sentenced to prison. He becomes an informant to the police and helps recapture
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