Great Expectations

Great Expectations
Great Expectations  
Greatexpectations vol1.jpg
Title page of Vol. 1 of first edition, July 1861
Author(s) Charles Dickens
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Series Weekly:
December 1, 1860 – August 3, 1861
Genre(s) Fiction Social criticism
Publisher Chapman & Hall
Publication date 1861 (in three volumes)
Media type Print (Serial, Hardback, and Paperback)
Pages 799 pp (hardback)
Preceded by A Tale of Two Cities
Followed by Our Mutual Friend

Great Expectations is a novel by Charles Dickens. It was first published in serial form in the publication All the Year Round[1] from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. It has been adapted for stage and screen over 250 times.[2]

Great Expectations is written in the first person from the point of view of the orphan Pip. The novel, like much of Dickens's work, draws on his experiences of life and people.


Plot summary

On Christmas Eve, around 1812,[3] Pip, a boy around the age of six, encounters an escaped convict in the village churchyard while visiting his mother's, father's and younger brothers' graves. The convict scares Pip into stealing food for him and a file to grind away his leg shackles. He warns Pip not to tell anyone and to do as he says or he will cut out Pip's heart and liver. Pip returns home, where he lives with his older sister Mrs. Joe, whose name is later revealed to be Georgiana Maria, and her husband Joe Gargery. His sister is very cruel and beats him as well as her husband with various objects regularly; however, Joe is much kinder to Pip. Pip's sister, called Mrs. Joe throughout the novel, often reminds Pip that she was the one who "brought him up by hand". Early the next morning, Pip steals food and drink from the Gargery pantry (including a pie for their Christmas feast) and sneaks out to the graveyard. It is the first time in Pip’s life he has felt truly guilty.

During Christmas dinner with the minister Mr. Wopsle, Mr. and Mrs. Hubble, and Uncle Pumblechook, Pip's and Mrs. Joe's moderately wealthy uncle, nobody notices the missing food or brandy until Uncle Pumblechook drinks some brandy and spits it out. Pip realizes that he filled the brandy jug not with water, but with tar-water (a foul-tasting tonic made of pine tar and water often used for medicinal purposes), instead. He had brought some of the brandy to the convict and had to replace it somehow. Pip sits at the table being told how lucky he is by all the relatives all the while in fear that someone will notice the missing pie. However, the moment his sister goes to the pantry to retrieve the pie and discovers it is missing, soldiers approach the house and ask Joe to repair their handcuffs and invite Joe, Pip and Mr. Wopsle to come with them to hunt for some escaped prisoners from the local jail. As they hunt through the marshes outside the village, they accost two convicts while engaged in a fight. One of them is the convict helped by Pip; the convict freely confesses to the theft of the file and "some wittles" (i.e. victuals) in order to shield Pip. The police take the two to the Hulk, a giant prison ship, and Pip is carried home by Joe, where they finish Christmas dinner. A while after Pip’s encounter with the convict, Pip's life returns to normal. He continues to attend the local school which is run by Mr. Wopsle's great-aunt, and becomes friends with Biddy, an orphan who was adopted by the Wopsles; even though no more was said of the incident with the convict and he has been absolved of any wrongdoing, he still feels guilty for the theft. A wealthy old woman named Miss Havisham asks Pip's Uncle Pumblechook to find a boy of a certain age and bring him to her home to play. Pumblechook immediately selects Pip and brings him to Miss Havisham's, who lives in the village in Satis House. Miss Havisham is a spinster who wears an old wedding dress with one shoe on and has all the house clocks stopped at 20 minutes to nine. She has not seen sunlight in years and claims that she just wants to see Pip play cards with Estella, a young girl she has adopted.

Pip's first encounter with Miss Havisham and Estella is a strange one. He discovers Miss Havisham is a shut-in who has boarded up the windows around the entire house so as not to allow any light in. She remains seated in a tattered chair where she instructs Pip to play cards with Estella. Here, Estella is cruel to Pip, calls him names and laughs at him. Miss Havisham seems to delight in this ill-treatment of Pip and asks him repeatedly what he thinks of Estella in turn by whispering it in her ear. Miss Havisham continually praises Estella for her pride and her beauty. Hurt and angry, Pip leaves Satis House to walk the grounds and cries. Estella brings him food; however, she begins to make fun of him again as she sees that he has been crying and teases him for doing so.

Miss Havisham with Estella and Pip. Art by H. M. Brock

After this first meeting, Pip frequently visits Miss Havisham and Estella, with whom he soon realizes he is in love. He begins to tenaciously learn everything he can from Biddy in school, with the hopes of becoming more educated and refined, in an effort to win Estella's affections, who had called him a "common, labouring boy". One day, when Pip goes to the town pub to pick up Joe, they are approached by a messenger sent by Pip's convict who gives Pip two pound notes before leaving; however, upon returning home with the notes, Mrs. Joe takes the money from Pip and places it in a jar with the intention of sending word to the pub the next day, as she believed that the messenger made a mistake and did not mean to give such a large amount of money to Pip. Soon after his encounter with the messenger, Pip returns to Satis House to visit Miss Havisham on her birthday where she shows him her wedding cake, which is being eaten by mice, and the place where she will be laid out when she is dead, a death she looks forward to. He also meets the Pockets who give him a chilly welcome. Outside, Pip is accosted by a young man, a young Hebert Pocket of about the same age, who tries to engage him in a fight. He calls Pip out but Pip refuses to fight with him at first; however, after this has gone on for a time, Pip swings at and strikes the young man, knocking him to the ground. The young man repeatedly encourages Pip to hit him even though he is clearly losing and becoming increasingly battered and bloody. After the fight is over, the two part ways; Estella, having seen the fight, lets Pip kiss her, excited that two young men are fighting for her, and he returns to the forge.

Miss Havisham requests an interview with Joe during which she inquires whether he still wishes Pip to be apprenticed to him as a blacksmith; Joe confirms this and she gives Joe 25 pounds, money Pip has earned keeping her company, and releases him from her services. Pip works with Joe for a few years in the forge, doing work that he once looked forward to however now despises as he begins to see it as "common" and "low". After making an agreement with Joe, Pip receives a half-holiday and visits Miss Havisham one final time on her birthday. This causes Joe's only other employee, a journeyman named Orlick, to become angry and demand a half day-holiday as well. Joe grants this and declares a "half-holiday for all." Upon hearing this, Mrs. Joe goes into a violent fit, angry that Joe is losing money by giving Pip and Orlick time off and closing the business early. Orlick and Mrs. Joe get into an argument during which they threaten each other and Orlick calls her a "shrew." She demands her husband punish Orlick for his actions and Joe and Orlick get into a short altercation after which Orlick is subsequently let go from his job. When Pip returns home, he discovers that Mrs. Joe had been attacked. The attack left her seriously injured and as she was struck in the head with a blunt object several times, the brain damage has left her an invalid. Pip feels guilty again when the police believe escaped criminals attacked Mrs. Joe. The detectives from London, however, do not discover anything more about the suspected attacker and thus no one is ever apprehended.

After her attack, Mrs. Joe spends her days calling for Orlick and drawing a capital "T" on a slate. Biddy believes that the "T" represents a hammer and that Orlick is the attacker. When Orlick arrives however, Mrs. Joe is very pleased to see him and soon after Orlick regularly comes to keep company and entertain Mrs. Joe. Meanwhile Biddy, being given the task of nursing Mrs. Joe, moves in with the Gargerys leading Pip to confide in her his true feelings for Estella. When Pip and Joe are listening to Mr. Wopsle read a murder trial from a newspaper, a London lawyer, Mr. Jaggers, approaches Pip, revealing very startling news: Pip has been given a large sum of money by an anonymous benefactor. The conditions of the receipt of said money require him to leave for London immediately, buy new clothes, always keep his name Pip, and become a gentleman.

Pip behaves badly in society (mostly over jealousy of Estella) and squanders his allowance, running into debt. He is rescued on his 21st birthday, when he is notified by Jaggers that he is awarded 500 pounds (equal to about £36,000 today) and an increased steady allowance, until such a time as his benefactor will appear and make himself known to Pip.

Magwitch makes himself known to Pip

Pip originally believes Miss Havisham is his benefactress (and so the reader is led to believe, as well) for several years as he begins to learn to be a gentleman, helped by the now grown Herbert Pocket, (whom he discovers is the young man he fought at Satis House as a boy), who is assigned as his companion. Pip returns to the village often, however rarely visiting his family and instead visiting Miss Havisham. For several years Estella had been studying abroad on the Continent (a fashionable tradition of women's education for the wealthy at the time). Upon her return, Pip finds Estella much changed and her attitude refined. She apologizes for her earlier cruelty, however, seeing Pip's affections warns him that he should not fall in love with her. Pip ignores these repeated warnings as he has long harbored the belief that Miss Havisham (as his benefactress) intended them for each other. Estella continues to warn him that her heart is cold and cannot love him and entreats him to take her seriously, but he refuses, still believing they will be married and that her heart is not as cold as she claims.

During this time, Mrs. Joe dies. Pip returns home to the funeral where Biddy confides in him that Orlick has made several unwanted advances toward her. Pip is infuriated and warns Orlick to stay away from Biddy, however Orlick continues to harass Biddy after Pip is gone.

Pip returns to London, heavily in debt that increases by the day. Having led Herbert into debt as well, Pip feels a deep sense of remorse for his irresponsible actions. In one of Dickens's famous plot twists, Pip's benefactor turns out to be instead Abel Magwitch, the convict whom Pip helped, who had been transported to New South Wales, where he had eventually prospered and become extremely wealthy.

Magwitch left all his money to Pip in gratitude for that kindness and also because Pip reminded him of his own child, whom he believes to have been killed by her mother over two decades earlier. The revelation of his true benefactor crushes Pip. He is ashamed of Magwitch's criminal past and deeply saddened by the realization that Miss Havisham merely allowed him to believe she was the source of his expectations and never intended for Pip to marry Estella. However, Magwitch now expects to spend the rest of his life living with Pip in England. Pip, very reluctantly, lets Magwitch stay with him. Pip is unhappy in his new found knowledge and the danger and uncertainty it brings. Pip, at one time entertained the idea of running off and joining the military to avoid Magwitch and his expectations. There is a warrant out for Magwitch's arrest in England and he will be hanged if he is caught in the country. Pip becomes increasingly suspicious of being watched and tells his landlord and all other close acquaintances (save for Herbert) that Magwitch is an uncle by the name of Provis. Eventually, it is understood that Magwitch cannot afford to stay in England much longer as the probability of Magwitch's arrest increases with each day he remains in the country. A plan is hatched by Herbert and Pip which involves fleeing the country by boat.

During these events, it is revealed to Pip that Estella is the daughter of Mr. Jaggers's housemaid, Molly, whom he defended in a murder charge and who gave up her daughter to be adopted by another of his clients, Miss Havisham, in return for his service in allowing her to be acquitted of the charge. Pip later realizes Magwitch is Estella's father. When Pip lays the claim before him, Mr. Jaggers does not outright confess to anything, however gives Pip a hypothetical situation in which these events transpired. He also hints that Molly, Estella's mother, used to be jealous and wild and that in order to keep her wildness in check he beat her regularly and severely. These hints are proven true by Molly's and Mr. Jaggers's interactions. Molly appears to be very much afraid of her master.

Shortly before Magwitch and Pip are scheduled to flee, Pip receives an unsigned note at his home telling him to appear at the marshes near his old home that night at 9pm. Pip is timid at first, but the letter mentions his "Uncle Provis" and threatens his safety. Pip is lured in by the threats to his benefactor and leaves for the village by carriage immediately. On the marshes, Pip is struck on the head by a blunt object, rendering him unconscious for a period of time. When he awakens, he finds himself bound in a small shack far away from any other residences. It is revealed that both the author of the anonymous note and his attacker is Orlick, who admits that he was in fact the one who attacked Mrs. Joe. Orlick confides that he intends to kill Pip as he was always jealous of young Pip when he worked with Joe and for Pip's intervention with his advances on Biddy. Pip is sure he is going to die though he refuses to cry out or beg for mercy.

Nevertheless, before Orlick can exact his revenge, Pip is rescued by Herbert, a village shop boy and their old friend, Startop. Herbert explains that he knew where to find him because Pip accidentally left the cryptic note at their home. Orlick flees, but it is decided not to alert the police as their situation with Magwitch is too precarious.

Meanwhile, out of spite for Miss Havisham, Estella has married Bentley Drummle, a boastful rival of Pip's whom he very much dislikes. Mr. Jaggers hints that he believes Drummle will beat Estella into submission so as to prove who is the stronger in the marriage. Pip is incensed and dejected, though he refuses to believe that Drummle would do such a thing.

Before Pip flees with Magwitch, he makes one final visit to Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham realizes that she created a monster out of Estella by encouraging her vanity and her coldness towards others but especially Pip. Miss Havisham claims that she adopted Estella for the sole purpose of saving someone else from the heartbreak and misfortune she herself suffered as a young woman. She instead taught Estella to be cruel, prideful and vain. It is revealed that Miss Havisham was convinced to buy her half-brother out of his share of the brewery at Satis House by a young man who claimed to love her. The young man proposed to Miss Havisham and arrangements were made; however, on her wedding day, shortly before the ceremony the young man never showed up; she had been jilted. After this heartbreak, Miss Havisham shut herself in her darkened house where she has sat in her bridal gown amongst the rotting wedding cake for decades. Miss Havisham avowed never to be heartbroken again and use Estella as a tool with which to exact her revenge on all men by encouraging her vanity and her meanness and her constant misleading of men.

However, seeing how much these teachings have corrupted Estella and broken Pip's heart, she asks him for forgiveness. Pip confronts Miss Havisham with Estella's history and present circumstance in an unhappy marriage, blaming Miss Havisham for teaching Estella to be cold and unloving. After the confrontation, Pip comes back into the house once more to discover Miss Havisham standing too close to the fire and it ignites her dress. In an effort to save her, he removes his overcoat and throws it around Miss Havisham. The fire is put out, however, he and Miss Havisham are both badly injured, Miss Havisham infinitely more so, and she eventually succumbs to her injuries.

Pip, Herbert, and another friend, Startop, make a gallant attempt to help Magwitch escape, but instead, he is captured and sent to jail. Pip is devoted to Magwitch by now and recognizes in him a good and noble man, and he is ashamed that he had formerly looked down on Magwitch as his inferior. Pip tries to have Magwitch released, but Magwitch dies shortly before his execution. Under English law, Magwitch's wealth forfeits to the Crown, thus extinguishing Pip's "Great Expectations."

During an extended period of sickness, Pip is nearly arrested for his numerous unpaid debts to several creditors; however, because of his ill health, which includes fever, he is not arrested. During this illness, he is looked after by Joe and eventually returns to good health. Joe departs early one morning leaving Pip with only a note of well-wishes, believing that as Pip had not visited him for so many years prior, he would not visit him again and that he likely would never see Pip again. Pip is greatly saddened by this turn of events and realizes how thankless and ungrateful he had been over the years. His guilt is then compounded by the discovery that he avoided arrest for debt, not because of his illness, but because Joe had paid all of his debts in full. Pip returns home to ask Biddy and Joe for forgiveness and to thank Joe for his undeserved kindness and unfailing love, for which Pip felt unworthy. When he arrives in the village, he finds that it is Biddy's and Joe's wedding day. He congratulates the couple, but tells them that his visit is only temporary, for he intended to pay Joe back every penny of the money he paid the creditors. Afterwards, Pip goes into business overseas with Herbert. After eleven relatively successful years abroad, Pip goes back to visit Joe and the rest of his family out in the marshes.

Original ending

Pip meets Estella on the streets. Her abusive husband Drummle has died. Estella and Pip exchange brief pleasantries, and Pip states that while he could not have her in the end, he was at least glad to know she was a different person now, changed from the coldhearted girl Miss Havisham had reared her to be. The novel ends with Pip saying he could see that "suffering had been stronger than Miss Havisham's teaching and had given her a heart to understand what my heart used to be."

The full text of the original ending is:

'It was two years more before I saw herself. I had heard of her as leading a most unhappy life, and as being separated from her husband, who had used her with great cruelty, and who had become quite renowned as a compound of pride, brutality, and meanness. I had heard of the death of her husband from an accident consequent on ill-treating a horse, and of her being married again to a Shropshire doctor who, against his interest, had once very manfully interposed on an occasion when he was in professional attendance upon Mr. Drummle, and had witnessed some outrageous treatment of her. I had heard that the Shropshire doctor was not rich, and that they lived on her own personal fortune. I was in England again – in London, and walking along Piccadilly with little Pip – when a servant came running after me to ask would I step back to a lady in a carriage who wished to speak to me. It was a small pony carriage, which the lady was driving; and the lady and I looked sadly enough on one another. "I am greatly changed, I know; but I thought you would like to shake hands with Estella, too, Pip. Lift up that pretty child and let me kiss it!" (She supposed the child, I think, to be my child.) I was very glad afterwards to have had the interview; for in her face and in her voice, and in her touch, she gave me the assurance that suffering had been stronger than Miss Havisham's teaching, and had given her a heart to understand what my heart used to be.

New American Classics edition published by New American Library, copyright 1963

The story ends in the year 1841.

Revised ending

Pip and Estella meet again at the ruins of Satis House.

"We are friends," said I, rising and bending over her, as she rose from the bench. "And will continue friends apart," said Estella. I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw the shadow of no parting from her.[4]

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Main characters in Great Expectations

Pip and his family

  • Philip Pirrip, nicknamed Pip, an orphan and the protagonist of Great Expectations. Throughout his childhood, Pip thought that he was going to be trained as a blacksmith, but with Magwitch's anonymous patronage, Pip travels to London and becomes a gentleman.
  • Joe Gargery, Pip's brother-in-law, and his first father figure. He is a blacksmith who is always kind to Pip and the only person with whom Pip is always honest. Joe was very disappointed when Pip decided to leave his home and travel to London to become a gentleman rather than be a blacksmith.
  • Mrs. Joe Gargery, Pip's hot-tempered adult sister, who raises him after the death of their parents but complains constantly of the burden Pip is to her. Orlick, her husband's journeyman, attacks her and she is left disabled until her death.
  • Mr. Pumblechook, Joe Gargery's uncle, an officious bachelor and corn merchant. While holding Pip in disdain, he tells Mrs. Joe how noble she is to raise Pip. As the person who first connected Pip to Miss Havisham, he even claims to have been the original architect of Pip's precious fortune. Pip despises Mr. Pumblechook as Mr. Pumblechook constantly makes himself out to be better than he really is. He is a cunning impostor. When Pip finally stands up to him, Mr. Pumblechook turns those listening to the conversation against Pip and his usefulness at succession.

Miss Havisham and her family

  • Miss Havisham, wealthy spinster who takes Pip on as a companion and whom Pip suspects is his benefactor. Miss Havisham does not discourage this as it fits into her own spiteful plans. She later apologizes to him as she's overtaken by guilt. He accepts her apology and she is badly burnt when her dress catches aflame from a spark which leapt from the fire. Pip saves her, but she later dies from her injuries.
  • Estella, Miss Havisham's adopted daughter, whom Pip pursues romantically throughout the novel. She is secretly the daughter of Molly, Jaggers' housekeeper, and Abel Magwitch, Pip's convict, but was given up to Miss Havisham after a murder trial. Estella represents the life of wealth and culture for which Pip strives. Since her ability to love has been ruined by Miss Havisham, she is unable to return Pip's passion. She warns Pip of this repeatedly, but he is unwilling or unable to believe her. At one point, Estella is walking up some iron stairs representing how she is of a higher class than Pip when in fact she is of the same class.
  • Matthew Pocket, a cousin of Miss Havisham's. He is the patriarch of the Pocket family, but unlike others of her relatives he is not greedy for Havisham's wealth. Matthew Pocket has a family of nine children, two nurses, a housekeeper, a cook, and a pretty but useless wife (named Belinda). He also tutors young gentlemen, such as Bentley Drummle, Startop, Pip, and his own son Herbert, who live on his estate.
  • Herbert Pocket, a member of the Pocket family, Miss Havisham's presumed heirs, whom Pip first meets as a "pale young gentleman" who challenges Pip to a fist fight at Miss Havisham's house when both are children. He is the son of Matthew Pocket, Pip's tutor in the "gentlemanly" arts, and shares his apartment with Pip in London, becoming Pip's fast friend who is there to share Pip's happiness as well as his troubles. He is in love with a girl called Clara. Herbert keeps it secret because he knows his mother would say she is below his "station".
  • Camilla, an ageing, talkative relative of Miss Havisham who does not care much for Miss Havisham and only wants her money. She is one of the many relatives who hang around Miss Havisham "like flies" for her wealth.
  • Cousin Raymond, another ageing relative of Miss Havisham who is only interested in her money. He is married to Camilla.
  • Georgiana, an ageing relative of Miss Havisham who is only interested in her money.
  • Sarah Pocket, "a dry, brown corrugated old woman, with a small face that might have been made out of walnut shells, and a large mouth like a cat's without the whiskers." Another ageing relative of Miss Havisham who is only interested in her money.

Characters from Pip's youth

  • The Convict, an escapee from a prison ship, whom Pip treats kindly, and who turns out to be his benefactor, at which time his real name is revealed to be Abel Magwitch, but who is also known as Provis and Mr. Campbell in parts of the story to protect his identity. Pip also covers him as his uncle in order that no one recognizes him as a convict sent to Australia years before.
    • Abel Magwitch, the convict's given name, who is also Pip's benefactor.
    • Provis, a name that Abel Magwitch uses when he returns to London, to conceal his identity. Pip also says that "Provis" is his uncle visiting from out of town.
    • Mr. Campbell, a name that Abel Magwitch uses after he is discovered in London by his enemy.
  • Mr. and Mrs. Hubble, simple folk who think they are more important than they really are. They live in Pip's village.
  • Mr. Wopsle, the clerk of the church in Pip's village. He later gives up the church work and moves to London to pursue his ambition to be an actor, even though he is not very good.
    • Mr. Waldengarver, the stage name that Mr. Wopsle adopts as an actor in London.
  • Biddy, Mr. Wopsle's second cousin; she runs an evening school from her home in Pip's village and becomes Pip's teacher. A kind and intelligent but poor young woman, she is, like Pip and Estella, an orphan. She is the opposite of Estella. Pip ignores her obvious love for him as he fruitlessly pursues Estella. After he realizes the error of his life choices, he returns to claim Biddy as his bride, only to find out she has married Joe Gargery. Biddy and Joe later have two children, one named after Pip whom Estella mistakes as Pip's child in the original ending. Orlick was attracted to her, but his affection was unreciprocated.

The lawyer and his circle

  • Mr. Jaggers, prominent London lawyer who represents the interests of diverse clients, both criminal and civil. He represents Pip's benefactor and is Miss Havisham's lawyer as well. By the end of the story, his law practice is the common element that brushes many of the characters.
  • John Wemmick, Jaggers's clerk, only called "Mr. Wemmick" and "Wemmick" except by his father, who himself is referred to as "The Aged Parent", "The Aged P.", or simply "The Aged." Wemmick is Pip's chief go-between with Jaggers and generally looks after Pip in London.
  • Molly, Mr. Jaggers's maidservant whom Jaggers saved from the gallows for murder. She is revealed to be the former lover of Magwitch, and Estella's mother.

Pip's antagonists

  • Compeyson (surname), another convict, and enemy to Magwitch. A professional swindler, he had been Miss Havisham's intended husband, who was in league with Arthur to defraud Miss Havisham of her fortune. He pursues Abel Magwitch when he learns that he is in London and drowns when, grappling with Magwitch, he falls into the Thames. In some editions of the book, he is called "Compey".
  • "Dolge" Orlick, journeyman blacksmith at Joe Gargery's forge. Strong, rude and sullen, he is as churlish as Joe is gentle and kind. His resentments cause him to take actions which threaten his desires in life but for which he blames others. He ends up in a fist fight with Joe over Mrs. Joe's taunting and is easily beaten. This set in motion an escalating chain of events that lead him to secretly injure Mrs. Joe grievously and eventually make an attempt on Pip's life. He is discovered and arrested.
  • Bentley Drummle, a coarse, unintelligent young man whose only saving graces are that he is to succeed to a title and his family is wealthy. Pip meets him at Mr. Pocket's house, as Drummle is also to be trained in gentlemanly skills. Drummle is hostile to Pip and everyone else. He is a rival to Pip for Estella's attentions and marries her. It is said he ill-treats Estella. Drummle would later be mentioned to have died from an accident following his mistreatment of a horse. "The Spider" is Mr. Jaggers' nickname for him.

Other characters

  • Clara Barley, eventual wife to Herbert Pocket. A very poor girl that lives with her father who is suffering from gout. She dislikes Pip before meeting him because she is aware of how he influences Herbert's spending, but she eventually warms to him.
  • Miss Skiffins, eventual wife to Mr. John Wemmick. She is known early in the novel for her occasional appearances at the cottage called "the castle" belonging to Mr. Wemmick and for the green gloves which she sports due to Mr. Pip's company. Those same gloves were interchanged for white at the only in text marriage scene, though there are several others that occur "off book."

Style and themes

Great Expectations is written in first person and uses language and grammar that has fallen out of common use since its publication. The title Great Expectations refers to the 'Great Expectations' Pip has of coming into his benefactor's property upon his disclosure to him and achieving his intended role as a gentleman at that time. Great Expectations is a bildungsroman, a novel depicting growth and personal development, in this case, of Pip.

Some of the major themes of Great Expectations are crime, social class, empire and ambition. From an early age, Pip feels guilt; he is also afraid that someone will find out about his crime and arrest him. The theme of crime comes in to even greater effect when Pip discovers that his benefactor is in fact a convict. Pip has an internal struggle with his conscience throughout the book. Great Expectations explores the different social classes of the Georgian era. Throughout the book, Pip becomes involved with a broad range of classes, from criminals like Magwitch to the extremely rich like Miss Havisham. Pip has great ambition, as demonstrated constantly in the book.

Film, TV, and theatrical adaptations

Like many other Dickens novels, Great Expectations has been filmed several times, including:

Cultural references and spin-offs

  • Great Expectations, the Untold Story (1986), starring John Stanton, directed by Tim Burstall is a spin-off movie depicting the adventures of Magwitch in Australia.
  • In explaining the character Pip Pirrup, the creators of South Park made a parody episode, "Pip". It initially followed the plot, but spun off on a tangent (one involving robot monkeys) that made Miss Havisham more villainous (by way of a brain-switching device) as a parody of the fact that Dickens had changed the ending to fit the fads at the time.
  • Peter Carey's Jack Maggs is a re-imagining of Magwitch's return to England, with the addition, among other things, of a fictionalised Charles Dickens character and plot-line.
  • Lloyd Jones's Mister Pip is set in Bougainville where, during a time of civil unrest, a white man uses Great Expectations as the basis for his lessons to the local children.
  • The plot and characters of Great Expectations feature heavily in Jasper Fforde's Thursday Next series. Miss Havisham is Thursday's friend and mentor, and Fforde draws from the manuscript to further along the story and give a glimpse of what goes on inside the world of Great Expectations when no one is reading it.
  • The BBC Radio 4 radio series Bleak Expectations is a parody of Dickens' and other Victorian novels in general, and of Bleak House and Great Expectations in particular. Its hero is called Pip Bin.
  • Great Expectations is the name of the first track off The Gaslight Anthem's album The '59 Sound, and the lyrics reference Estella.
  • Alanis Morissette compares herself to Estella on "All I Really Want," a song from her 1995 album Jagged Little Pill.
  • Pip and the Zombies is a mash up of Great Expectations and zombie literature by Louis Skipper.
  • The film Parasomnia the antagonist recommends the main character read Great Expectations as it relates to their interactions.


  1. ^ How Great Expectations
  2. ^ Great Expectations Critical Overview
  3. ^ Meckier, Jerome Dating the Action in Great Expectations: A New Chronology.
  4. ^ "Great Expectations - Chapter 59 by Charles Dickens". Retrieved 2011-03-28. 

External links

Online editions
Study guide

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  • Great Expectations — (deutsch Große Erwartungen) ist der Originaltitel: des Romans Große Erwartungen (1861) von Charles Dickens und folgender Verfilmungen dieses Romans (chronologisch): Des Sträflings Lösegeld (1934) von Stuart Walker Geheimnisvolle Erbschaft… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Great Expectations — Les Grandes Espérances Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Les Grandes Espérances, en anglais Great Expectations, est le titre : Les Grandes Espérances un roman de Charles Dickens paru… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Great Expectations — a novel (1861) by Charles Dickens. * * * Great Expectations [Great Expectations] a novel (1861) by Charles Dickens. It is the story of a young man, Pip, who helped a prisoner to escape when he was a boy. Later, the man sends him money, but Pip… …   Useful english dictionary

  • great expectations — very great expectations, high hopes …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Great Expectations (disambiguation) — Great Expectations is an 1860 novel by Charles Dickens. It may also refer to:The novel s numerous adaptations: * Great Expectations (1917 film), a silent, black and white version starring Jack Pickford as Pip * Great Expectations (1934 film), a… …   Wikipedia

  • Great Expectations — Great Ex|pec|ta|tions (1861) a novel by Charles ↑Dickens about a young man called Pip who wants to become rich and successful. He is given money by an unknown person, and as a result he becomes a less nice person, but after several difficult… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Great Expectations (1946 film) — Infobox Film name = Great Expectations caption = original film poster writer = Original novel: Charles Dickens Screenplay adaptation: Anthony Havelock Allan Cecil McGivern Ronald Neame Kay Walsh starring = John Mills Anthony Wager Jean Simmons… …   Wikipedia

  • Great Expectations (1998 film) — Infobox Film name = Great Expectations caption = Theatrical release poster director = Alfonso Cuarón writer = Charles Dickens (novel) Mitch Glazer (screenplay) starring = Ethan Hawke Gwyneth Paltrow Chris Cooper Hank Azaria with Anne Bancroft and …   Wikipedia

  • Great Expectations (1999 film) — Infobox Television Film bgcolour = name = Great Expectations caption = format = Drama runtime = 168 minutes creator = director = Julian Jarrold producer = writer = Charles Dickens (novel) starring = Ioan Gruffudd Justine Waddell Charlotte… …   Wikipedia

  • Great Expectations – The Singles Collection — Infobox Album | Name = Great Expectations The Singles Collection Type = Compilation album Artist = New Model Army Released = 2003 Recorded = Genre = Rock, Post punk, Folk rock Length = 69:55 Label = Superfecta Producer = Compiler = Justin… …   Wikipedia

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