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Studying Great Expectations: Meet the Characters

written by: Trent Lorcher • edited by: Trent Lorcher • updated: 1/17/2012

This is a review of the characters in the book Great Expectations. This study guide lists the characters and describes their roles.

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    Pip's Family

    • Pip (Philip Pirip) - The novel's main character and narrator is raised by his ill-tempered sister. Pip never knew his parents and his first recollection of them occurs at the church graveyard, where he is threatened by an escaped convict. Pip is initially satisfied with his station in life and wishes to be apprenticed to Joe, his sister's husband, as a blacksmith. After meeting Estella at Miss Havisham's house, Pip becomes dissatisfied and decides that being a blacksmith is not good enough. Four years into his apprenticeship, Pip receives a large sum of money and the promise of a gentleman's education. Pip's good fortune transforms him into a snob. The narrator Pip is grown up and often reflects ashamedly on his past behavior.
    • Joe Gargery - Pip's brother-in-law. Joe is a good and loyal friend to Pip and the only person who showed him love when Pip was a boy. Joe remained loyal despite Pip's snobbish behavior towards him.
    • Mrs. Joe - Pip's sister who raised Pip "by hand." She is an unsympathetic character, who rules by force. She receives a crippling blow to the head shortly before Pip inherits his fortune, becomes a vegetable, and dies not long after.
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    The Havishams

    • Miss. Havisham - Abandoned on her wedding day, Miss Havisham spends the rest of her life at Satis House, her dungeon-like home. She wears her wedding dress, has not seen the sun in years, and keeps the bride's cake, covered in cobwebs and gnawed by mice, on a table in her tomb-like room. She raises Estella for the sole purpose of getting revenge on the male species. She invites Pip to entertain her until he is apprenticed to Joe Gargery.
    • Estella Havisham - Estella is beautiful, intelligent, and raised to torment men. She scorns Pip and treats him poorly on his visits to Satis House. Despite his ill treatment, Pip falls in love and dedicates his life to getting her approval.
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    Characters from Pip's Childhood

    • The Convict - The novel begins with a convict forcing Pip to bring him food and a file. Despite a rough exterior, the convict proves himself to be a generous man.
    • Mr. Wopsle - A friend of the Gargerys, Wopsle serves as comic relief throughout the novel. He accompanies Joe and the soldiers as they track down Pip's convict and is harangued by Jaggers for passing judgment on an accused killer. He leaves his position in the church, heads to London, and wishes to become a great actor.
    • Uncle Pumblechook - Pumblechook, Joe Gargery's uncle, is present at the Gargery Christmas dinner as the novel opens. He is pompous, arrogant, and mean to Pip. Once Pip gains his fortune, Pumblechook takes credit for it and treats him well.
    • Orlick - Joe Gargery's journeyman blacksmith treats Pip meanly and dotes on Biddy.
    • Biddy - Pip's first teacher, Biddy is common and has a good heart. She takes care of Mrs. Joe after the assault.
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    Londoners

    • Mr. Jaggers - Pip's guardian is one of the top lawyers in London. He also serves as Miss Havisham's lawyer.
    • Wemmick - Wemmick lives two lives: he's Mr. Jagger's clerk at the office and a loyal son at his castle home. He invites Pip to dine with him shortly after his arrival in London.
    • Miss Skiffins - Wemmick's beloved--her relationship with Wemmick contrasts the mostly negative relationships Pip witnesses.
    • Bentley Drummle - Pip hates Drummle, a fellow student at the Pocket house, because he is a brute and because he maintains affection for Estella.
    • Startop - Another fellow student, Startop befriends Pip and Herbert.
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    The Pockets

    • Herbert Pocket - Originally the pale young gentleman who boxes Pip at Miss Havisham's, Herbert becomes Pip's closest friend in London. Herbert is kind, honest, and ambitious. He is corrupted by Pip's lavish spending and tries to keep up with him, a practice which leads him into debt.
    • Matthew Pocket - Herbert's father refuses to compete for Miss Havisham's favor and makes a living tutoring young gentlemen, including Pip.
    • Mrs. Pocket - Herbert's mother is obsessed with social status and laments that her grandfather should have been a baronet. She complains that marrying Matthew lowered her social status. Mrs. Pocket is an incompetent wife, mother, and homemaker.
    • Sarah Pocket - Sarah hates Pip. She seeks Miss Havisham's favor in order to inherit her fortune.
    • Camilla and Raymond - They too resent Pip. They flatter Miss Havisham, hoping to gain her favor and fortune.
    • Clara - She lives with her father by the river and is loved by Herbert.
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    Convicts

    • Abel Magwitch - The first convict later makes his fortune in Australia.
    • Compeyson - The second convict is the man who deserts Miss Havisham.
    • The Man at the Three Jolly Bargemen - The third convict appears at the Three Jolly Bargemen, stirs his drink with a file, and hands Pip two one-pound notes.