Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens had to deal with money problems pretty much his whole life. When he was a kid he had to work in a nasty factory to help out at home. As an adult he was stuck supporting his ex-wife, his millions of kids, and his mistress and her family. So, obviously he was shelling out some serious cash. This struggle with money and wealth are problems that the character Pip has to deal with too. A lot of people think parts of this book are supposed to be like parts of Dickens’ life. He originally wrote this book like a soap opera, publishing small sections at a time, (this was a popular way to write in 19th century England). It would have definitely made it easier to read, because this is a LONG book!
Pip: He is the main character and the book is basically about his life. His real name is Philip Pirrip, but that name obviously sucks so he calls himself Pip. His parents died when he was born and he is raised by his meanie older sister and her husband. They live on the marshes in rural England.
Mrs. Joe Gargery: This is Pip’s meanie older sister. She beats Pip and her husband because she is kind of a control freak and she is basically pretty miserable with her life.
Joe Gargery: This is the sister’s husband. He is a blacksmith, (guy who does stuff with metal), and is a good friend to Pip.
Escaped Convict #1: We later learn that his name is Abel Magwitch, but he uses the fake name of Uncle Provis.
Escaped Convict #2: His name is Compeyson, and he and the first convict hate each other because of stuff that happened before they went to jail.
Uncle Pumblechook: He is Joe Gargery’s uncle, but pretty much everyone else calls him uncle. He is a big wannabe; he takes credit for all the good stuff that happens to people and acts like he knows everything.
Miss Havisham: She is this rich, old, crazy lady that lives outside of the village at Satis House. She has not changed anything in her house since she was stood up on her wedding day. She still wears the dress, the food is still out, the clocks have been stopped, and she hasn’t left the house since, (it has been a long time, like over 20-30 years).
Estella: She is Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter. She is very beautiful but heartless. Miss Havisham has raised her to be unfeeling so she would not suffer heartache like she had.
Biddy: She helps educate Pip in his early years and she later becomes an important family friend.
Herbert:Miss Havisham’s nephew. He becomes Pip’s best friend when they meet in London. He calls Pip ‘Handel’.
Jaggers: He is Miss Havisham’s lawyer, and also in charge of the money designated by someone on Pip’s behalf, to make him a gentleman. He is a tough guy with few feelings and rarely loses his cases.
Wemmick: He is Jaggers’ clerk and it seems like he has almost a split personality. He has two personalities, "at home" and "at work". "At home" he is cool and he and Pip are buddies. "At work" he is kind of strange and detached from the world.
Orlick: He is this ogre-like guy who is really shady. He worked for Joe, and then he was suspected of trying to kill Mrs. Joe. He creeps around throughout the book.
Drummle: Pip’s schoolmate that he does not like. He ends up marrying Estella.
Pip is orphaned at childbirth and is raised by his sister and her husband, Mr. & Mrs. Joe Gargery. He lives a pretty normal, happy life considering the circumstances. He sneaks around like a normal kid and one time he steals stuff to help an escaped convict. Anyway, one day he is called to Miss Havisham’s house to play. There he meets Estella and she is like the only lively, pretty thing in that house. Pip loves her but she constantly points out his faults. Now he realizes what a common, uneducated, rough kid he is. From then on he is not really content with his life anymore.
He keeps going to Miss Havisham’s because she gets this sick enjoyment out of seeing Pip tortured by Estella. When Pip is old enough, 14, he has to be apprenticed to Joe and learn how to be a blacksmith. Miss Havisham pays the money that apprentices are supposed to give their masters and so goes life for awhile. Pip’s sister gets attacked and becomes an invalid. Biddy moves in to help out.
One day Jaggers shows up at Pip’s house and tells him that an unknown person has set up a fund for Pip to go to London to study and become a gentleman. This is like Pip’s dream and he is really pumped. He thinks he can make himself better for Estella. Pip assumes it is Miss Havisham who has done this for him.
In London, Pip studies under this estranged member of Miss Havisham’s family and becomes friends with Herbert, his roommate and new best friend. He is basically living the high life and spending way more money than he is supposed to. He kind of turns into a snob, he hires a servant and is pretty rude to Joe when he comes to visit. Life continues.
Estella moves to London and Pip thinks that this is part of Miss Havisham’s plan for him. He sees Estella every now and then but she is still pretty rude to him and she is always flirting with other guys.
Pip’s sister dies, and he is not really sad because she wasn’t very nice to him, but he is sorry she died. Biddy leaves the house because she doesn’t need to take care of the Mrs. Joe anymore. They decide that both Pip and Biddy will help Joe and keep him company. Pip never does.
Pip turns 21 and receives 500 pounds a year from then on, from his "sugar daddy" (still not known). Pip starts making friends with Wemmick at his home, where he is very different from work. He lives in this strange castle with a drawbridge, moat, etc called Walworth. He is a strange guy but very nice to Pip. He helps Pip set up an account for his friend Herbert so that Herbert may get the job he dreams of.
Pip learns that Estella is dating this guy that he hates and he gets pissed. He goes home and finds some stranger hanging out at his house. It ends up being the convict that Pip stole food for years ago, and he is Pip’s "sugar daddy"!! (This is a big surprise to us and to Pip). Pip freaks out and doesn’t know what to do because the money isn’t really clean because this guy is still a con, etc. Pip hides Uncle Provis, that is the fake name they give him, for awhile. He learns that he has to get him out of England because if he is found there he will be killed. A lot of time is spent on making a plan to smuggle him out of the country. Herbert is very helpful in this plan. They hide Uncle Provis in a room at Herbert’s girlfriend’s house by the Thames (river in England). They row around in a boat by there everyday for awhile so people will be used to seeing them. Then they will row down the river and jump on to a big ship headed for Germany or somewhere when the timing is right.
Well, stuff gets messed up because Pip gets hurt trying to save Miss Havisham from a fire. His arms are all burned up. He is pissed off because Estella is marrying the jerk he hates. Then, Wemmick tells him that there are people following him around. He gets freaked out and decides they need to get Uncle Provis out of the country soon! One more problem, he gets this note that says stuff about Uncle Provis and that Pip better come meet whoever wrote this note in a private place all alone. Pip, the idiot, goes and gets beat up by wacko Orlick who seems to have some whacked out plan of taking over Pip’s life. He had always been jealous of Pip. Luckily Pip’s friends found the note and saved him.
So, Pip is really weak and they set out to get Provis out of England. They are being followed as they row down the river and they don’t make it on to the big boat. The people following them jump their boat and Provis starts fighting this one dude, who is his old partner in crime. They really hate each other and that dude was just trying to screw Provis over by getting him busted for being in England. Well, Provis kills him while they fight and this attracts a lot of attention so he has to go to jail. Jaggers can’t help him out and he is executed.
Pip is all sick and weak from all the trauma lately and he goes into a coma for awhile. When he wakes up Joe is there and has been taking care of him the whole time. He has paid all Pip’s debts so he won’t have to go to jail. Pip and Joe make amends. Joe gets married to Biddy. Pip goes to the colonies with Herbert to start a new life.
Years later Pip comes back to see Joe and Biddy. They have a little boy they have named Pip, and Pip just loves him. He goes to where Miss Havisham’s house was, she died years ago, and he sees Estella. Her marriage is over and she shows signs of having some feelings and compassion. It ends leaving you thinking that they are going to get together.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER
- We meet Pip and learn he is an orphan. He is visiting his parent's gravesite.
- He is frightened by escaped convict #1 who threatens him and demands that Pip bring him some food and a file, (to saw off his ball and chain - literally).
- The Gargerys hear firing, warning that a convict has escaped. They remember hearing shots the night before too.
- Pip is all nervous to steal from his sister and Joe, but he gets up in the very early morning and does it anyway.
- Pip brings the goods out to the convict and sees another convict, not the one that scared him the night before.
- The first con is very interested to hear about who the other con is and what he looked like.
- It is Christmas and the Gargerys celebrate with friends.
- Pip does not enjoy himself because he is the only child there and he feels so guilty about stealing that stuff for the con.
- Soldiers come to the door, and Pip is convinced they are going to arrest him. They need Joe, the blacksmith, to fix their handcuffs.
- All the men, and Pip, go with the soldiers to look for the escaped convicts.
- They hear yelling and see the two convicts fighting each other.
- They capture the convicts and help bring them back.
- This first one recognizes Pip and confesses to stealing the food from the blacksmith’s house, when it was really Pip who stole.
- Pip and Joe return home and tell all that it was the convict who took the missing food. Pip feels really guilty and wants to tell Joe the truth but he is afraid that Joe won’t love him anymore.
- Pip tells us about his schooling, which basically sucks. The things he learns he learns on his own or from his own want to learn.
- Joe tells Pip about his childhood.
- Pip’s sister and Uncle Pumblechook come into the house to tell Pip that Miss Havisham has asked him to her house to play.
- Uncle Pumblechook brings Pip to Miss Havisham’s, but he is not allowed in.
- Miss Havisham is very weird and she just wants to watch Pip play cards with Estella.
- Pip realizes he is poor and rough because Estella points it out to him. This is the first time he has realized this and he is embarrassed and upset. He thinks Estella is so great.
- Pip’s sister and Uncle Pumblechook are very curious to know what Miss Havisham was like. Pip lies and makes up a story about what he did at her house.
- Pip admits to Joe that he was lying about Miss Havisham, and he also admits to Joe that he is ignorant and backward.
- Joe is disappointed that Pip lied, but assures Pip he is very smart, etc. Basically, Joe doesn’t understand because he is ignorant and backward too.
- Pip decides to better himself by asking Biddy to teach him everything he knows.
- Pip goes into the local bar to get Joe. There is a strange man sitting with Joe and his friends. This man has the file that Pip stole for the convict in his pocket. He slips Pip some money.
- Pip goes back to Miss Havisham’s and she brings him into the room that was set for her bridal dinner. The food and the cake are still there, all moldy and nasty. There are spiders and mice all over and everything is rotten.
- She wants Pip to walk her around the table. She tells Pip that when she dies her body will be laid on the table, and she shows him where her family will sit around her.
- Miss Havisham’s family is there because it is her birthday, and they come in to watch.
- Pip leaves and wanders around the house outside. He sees this other boy there, and the boy wants to fight him. Pip beats him up and the boy doesn’t seem to care. (We later find out that the boy is Herbert).
- Estella comes outside and tells Pip that he may kiss her. Pip is psyched and he does.
- Pip tells of other visits to Miss Havisham and how they begin to talk to each other more. Estella continues to mess with him, but never lets him kiss her again. Miss Havisham asks Pip to bring Joe with him sometime.
- Joe and Pip go to see Miss Havisham and Pip is almost embarrassed of Joe. He looks funny in his Sunday clothes and he doesn’t answer Miss Havisham, he will only speak through Pip. Miss Havisham gives Joe some money for Pip’s apprenticeship, saying he has earned it there.
- Uncle Pumblechook drags Pip to the courthouse to sign his apprentice papers. They all celebrate the great amount of money Miss Havisham has given them.
- Pip is ashamed of home and of becoming a blacksmith.
- Pip asks Joe for a half day off from work so that he may go visit Miss Havisham. Orlick gets mad and wants the time off too. Mrs. Joe gets mad at everyone and starts yelling. Orlick threatens Mrs. Joe.
- Estella is not at Miss Havisham’s and Pip is kind of upset. He learns that she is studying abroad.
- When he gets back to town he hears there are gunshots, like the ones when the convicts escaped. Someone tells him to get home quick because there has been an attack at Pip’s house. His sister had been beaten.
- Pip’s sister is pretty much an invalid. She doesn’t know what is going on and she is very slow. Biddy moves in to help out.
- Pip’s sister tries to communicate with signs and letters but no one know what she is saying.
- Biddy figures out she wants Orlick to come, and she is actually pleased to see him and likes him there. (This is weird because pretty much everyone knows that Orlick whacked her but no one can prove it).
- Biddy and Pip get closer and spend more time together. She is the only one that Pip is real with, and she understands. He tells her about Estella. Creepy Orlick follows them around because he likes Biddy. She does not like him, and it Pip gets angry and protective of Biddy.
- Jaggers is in the local bar and he is looking for Pip. He tells Pip that someone has given a lot of money for Pip’s education and making him into a gentleman. He cannot tell Pip whom that someone is, although Pip thinks it is Miss Havisham because he had seen Jaggers at her house before.
- Biddy and Joe are happy for Pip, but they are also sad that he will be leaving them.
- Pip goes into town to get some new clothes.
- Pip visits Miss Havisham to say goodbye, and to secretly say thank you because he thinks it is her that is sending him to London.
- Pip leaves for London.
- Pip goes to Mr. Jaggers' office and it is very dark and dismal. People in the streets are trying to talk to Jaggers and he crudely knocks them away.
- Mr. Wemmick takes Pip to where he will be staying. He waits to meet his roommate and realizes that it is the boy he beat up a couple of years ago at Miss Havisham's.
- Pip and Herbert get to know each other and Herbert decides he will call Pip, ‘Handel’. He tells Pip Miss Havisham’s life story and about the career he hope to pursue, etc.
- Pip is to be tutored from Herbert’s father, and so the boys go to his house. Pip is first introduced to Herbert’s family.
- Herbert’s parents, the Pockets, have a bunch of kids that pretty much just run around and do whatever. They don’t take charge of much that goes on in their house.
- Pip goes to see Jaggers to get some more money.
- Pip goes to Walworth, Wemmick’s house.
- Pip sees Wemmick as a different man outside of work. He is much more carefree and relaxed.
- Pip goes to dinner at Jaggers’ house with his friends from school.
- The dinner is much more formal than the one at Wemmick's house.
- Jaggers points out how strong his housekeeper’s hands are. Pip takes extra notice because Wemmick had told him to take notice of her. (We don’t know why yet).
- Joe comes to visit and acts weird around Pip. He calls him "Sir" and is acting awkward. He knows and apologizes to Pip, saying they don’t belong together in London, only in the privacy of their home on the marshes.
- Pip travels home, because Miss Havisham sent for him, and in the coach he has to sit next to two convicts being transported to somewhere else.
- One of them is telling the story of how he gave Pip the money from the other convict.
- Pip gets freaked out even though they don’t recognize him.
- Pip goes to a hotel and when he is eating his dinner he sees an article in the paper that claims Pumblechook is the man paying for Pip to become a gentleman. (Its pretty obvious that Pumblechook either started that rumor or had the article made up).
- Pip goes to Miss Havisham’s first thing in the morning. Orlick answers the door, and Pip learns he is working there.
- Estella is there and Miss Havisham is curious to see and hear what the two think about each other. (It has been awhile since they have seen each other, some crucial puberty years). They walk in the garden and Estella tells Pip that she has no emotions or heart. This kind of scares Pip when he realizes she is serious.
- Miss Havisham tells Pip to love Estella, even if she disses him. Pip is siked because he thinks Estella is part of Miss Havisham’s plan for him, he admits to himself that he loves her.
- Pip tells Jaggers that Orlick shouldn’t be working at Miss Havisham’s. Jaggers fires Orlick.
- Pip returns to London and send Joe a gift, to make himself feel better for not going to see him when he was home.
- Pip tells Herbert that he loves Estella. Herbert tells Pip about his girlfriend, Clara.
- Pip and Herbert go to see an awful production of the play Hamlet.
Pip thinks about Estella all the time.
- Pip gets a note from Estella that she will be coming to London and that he has to meet her when she gets off the coach.
- Estella is being nice to Pip and lets him kiss her again. He brings her to the family she is going to stay with.
- Pip describes the high life he starts to lead, spending a lot more money than he has.
- Pip gets a letter from home that his sister has passed away.
- Pip returns home for the funeral and Joe is glad to see him there.
- Pip asks Joe if he can stay in his old room, and that makes Joe happy.
- Biddy tells Pip she is going to leave since she doesn’t have to take care of his sister anymore. She is going to be the new schoolmistress.
- Biddy says she has seen Orlick creeping around every once in awhile.
- Pip promises he will come home often.
- Pip turns 21 and learns he is to receive 500 pounds a year from his "sugar daddy".
- Pip asks Wemmick to help him set up a way that he can give Herbert 100 pounds a year, without him knowing, to get him started on his career. Wemmick tells him he would be throwing his money away, but if he was serious about doing it to come talk to him at his house. (Remember he is like 2 different people at work and at home).
- Pip goes to Walworth to talk to Wemmick about setting up some money for Herbert.
- Wemmick hooks Pip up.
- Pip talks about Estella in this chapter. She gets in an argument with Miss Havisham because she is insensitive.
- Estella argues that that is how Miss Havisham made her, so that she would not be heartbroken like she had been.
- Then, Pip learns that Estella has been dating this guy Drummle that he hates. So he is all frustrated and confused with the whole Estella situation.
- Pip returns home one night to find some strange guy hanging out by his house. Pip recognizes him as the escaped convict he stole some food for when he was a little kid.
- The ex-con tells Pip that he is the one supplying him with all the money. Pip is disappointed, disgraced and embarrassed.
- He thinks of Estella and realizes she isn’t really meant to be a part of this plan.
- Pip realizes how heartless and rude he has been to Joe, and regrets ever leaving his simple life.
- Everything he has hoped for is crashing around him.
- Pip has to be careful to hide the convict, and calls him his Uncle Provis. The watchman tells Pip he saw his "uncle" come in last night, but that there was also someone behind him.
- Someone that neither Uncle Provis nor Pip knew anything about.
- Pip goes to see Jaggers to be sure that this man is really his benefactor. Jaggers says yes but takes special care to speak about him as though he were in Australia, where he was supposed to be serving a life sentence.
- If he were to return to England he would be executed, this is why Pip has to be really careful in hiding him.
- Pip and Herbert try to figure out what to do with Provis. Pip tells Herbert he is so confused, he cannot accept anymore money from this man because of who he is, but he is very much in debt and owes this man so much already.
- They decide that Pip must get him out of England and then cut all ties.
- Provis tells the guys his life story. He was pretty much always a criminal, doing stuff to get by. He got into ‘business’ with this guy Compeyson who used Provis to do all the dirty work.
- They were arrested and Compeyson sold Provis, (real name Magwitch), out in court.
- Provis hated Compeyson, and they were the two convicts Pip saw fighting when he was a kid.
- Provis says he still wants to kill him.
- Herbert and Pip figure out that Compeyson is the man that stood Miss Havisham up at the altar.
- Pip goes to Miss Havisham’s and stupid Drummle is there! Pip gets all fired up and jealous.
- Pip asks Miss Havisham to continue paying the 100 pounds a year for Herbert, still without his knowing.
- Pip tells Estella that he loves her and always has loved her. She tells him she is going to be married to Drummle.
- Pip returns to London and gets a note at the gate before he gets in his house. It tells him to not go home.
- Pip goes to a hotel and in the morning he goes to see Wemmick.
- Wemmick tells Pip that Compeyson had been following Provis and was looking for him at his home.
- Because of the emergency Provis was moved to a room in the building where Herbert’s girlfriend lived.
- Pip goes to Herbert’s girlfriend’s building, and meets Clara for the first time.
- Pip tells Provis that he had been watched and was under suspicion that is why they moved him.
- He does not tell Provis about Compeyson, because they don’t want him to freak out and go after him or something.
- They decide to get a boat and when the right time comes, Pip will sneak Provis out in the boat and until he can hook up with a bigger ship to take him out of the country.
- Until then Pip will row around in he boat so people will be used to seeing him.
- Pip runs into a guy from home. He tells Pip that there was a man following him, one that looked just like one of the convicts from years ago. (Compeyson).
- Pip has dinner with Jaggers and Wemmick. Pip notices a great similarity between Jaggers’ housekeeper and Estella.
- Wemmick and Pip walk home together and Wemmick tells Pip about Jaggers’ housekeeper. Jaggers helped her years ago from an attempted murder charge.
- She had a baby girl, two or three years old, and no one knows what became of her.
- Pip goes to see Miss Havisham because she wishes to pay the money to keep Herbert in his employment.
- Pip learns that Estella has been married. Miss Havisham is expresses her regret about how heartless she had made Estella, she apologizes to Pip.
- Pip asks about Estella’s real parents. All Miss Havisham can say is that Jaggers brought her to her, at the age of two or three. Pip is sure that Jaggers’ housekeeper is Estella’s birth mother.
- Miss Havisham catches on fire and Pip puts it out.
- She suffers some serious burns and shock. The doctors move her bed on top of the bridal feast table, so they can more easily dress her wounds.
- This is creepy because that is where she said she would be laid when she died. She is delirious muttering regrets about how she raised Estella.
- Pip suffered some burns too and had to keep getting them fixed up.
- Herbert tells Pip what he and Provis talked about the night before.
- Provis told Herbert about a woman he had had trouble with and who was acquitted on a murder charge.
- He had a little girl with this woman, who he never saw again. (The woman is Jaggers’ housekeeper, and the daughter is Estella!)
- Pip goes to Jaggers to see if he is right about Estella’s parents.
- He is although Jaggers never outright admits it.
- Pip finds a letter waiting for him at home that says he must return to the marshes alone if he wants any information regarding his uncle Provis.
- This is freaky because n one is supposed to know about his uncle Provis.
- Pip goes to the meeting place designated in the letter. He is captured as soon as he walks in the door. It is Orlick who has him.
- He is mad at Pip for getting him fired form Miss Havisham’s, for interfering with his crush on Biddy, and for being successful.
- He admits to beating his sister, and says a lot of strange stuff. It’s like he wants to put his life onto Pip, and by killing Pip he will become Pip. Who knows, Orlick is crazy.
- Pip freaks out that he is going to die when Herbert busts in and saves him. Herbert had found the note and followed his friend to make sure he would be okay.
- Pip, Herbert and their school buddy Startop set out in the boat to get Provis out of England.
- They get freaked out that they are being followed so they stop for the night.
- They set out again and are close to trying to get on to the big steamer going to Hamburg. A boat that was following them crept up behind them and pulled Magwitch, (Provis), into the water.
- It was Compeyson and the two struggled underwater until Magwitch broke free. Compeyson is presumed dead, and Magwitch is taken into custody.
- His arrest and obvious sentencing take away all his hopes of making Pip a gentleman, and all Pip’s money. All Magwitch’s wealth will go to the crown.
- Magwitch is taken into police custody and the trial is postponed until the proper witnesses can be found.
- Wemmick takes a day off from work, the first time ever, and invites Pip out to his house. He gets married in this bizarre little ceremony.
- Magwitch gets really sick in prison, and dies there before his scheduled execution.
- Pip is in big debt and will probably have to go to debtor’s prison.
- They leave him alone for a little while because he is really sick.
- He is sick for a couple of months and Joe is there the whole time.
- When Pip comes to, he can’t believe that Joe is there and for how long he has been ill.
- Pip learns that Miss Havisham is dead.
- Orlick is in jail for breaking into Pumblechook’s house.
- Joe tells Pip he heard about whom his benefactor really was, not Miss Havisham but the convict from long ago.
- Pip goes home with Joe and after he is well again, Joe leaves him a note that it is okay for him to leave again. Inside there is a receipt for all Pip’s debts, Joe paid them all.
- Joe and Biddy are married.
- Pip makes amends with Joe and Biddy.
- Pip moves with Herbert and Clara and is a clerk in Herbert’s business. Years later he will become partner, and Herbert will learn about all the money Pip invested him when he was starting off.
- After 11 years Pip returns to see Joe and Biddy. They have a son named Pip and a baby girl too.
- Pip goes out to Miss Havisham’s old estate and sees Estella there.
- She seems to be emotional and changed. Her marriage is over and we are left to understand that they are finally going to be together.
THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART
- This book is about money and wealth. The differences between higher class and lower class. The people who have money in this novel are not happy, ex. Miss Havisham.
- Pip only feels good about himself again when he no longer has the burden of money and he has made amends with Joe, his family.
- Many parts of this book tie together way too easily in the end. Every character eventually plays an important part to the story, like Estella’s real mother and father - the housekeeper and Uncle Provis. It is a little unbelievable.
- Pip exists within a Victorian (19th century England) social order that is obsessed by class.
- Pip emerges against this social order establishing true selfhood. He does not need any class distinction to make him happy. He lives as a clerk surrounded by a good friend, and with a loving family back in England. That is all he needs. When he realizes this he is eventually rewarded with Estella.