Great Expectations – 1860-1861 – a weekly serialised novel
Great Expectations was initially published in All the Year Round, a weekly periodical founded and owned by Charles Dickens. There were nine monthly instalments, running from December of 1860 until August 1861.
In October 1861 Chapman and Hall published it in three volumes.
This is his thirteenth and penultimate completed novel. It is a coming-of-age story.
The novel is set in Kent and London. In the novel, Pip, like Dickens himself, dreams of becoming a gentleman. However, Pip comes to realize that there is more to life than wealth and station.
Pip (Philip) Pirrip is a seven-year-old orphan. He lives with his quick-tempered sister, Georgina Maria Gargery, known as ‘Mrs Joe’. Joe, her husband, is a kind-hearted blacksmith, they live in the marshland on the coast of Kent.
While Pip is visiting the graves of his parents he meets an escaped convict. The convict threatens him if he does not return with food and tools. Pip steals the pie and brandy that was intended for Christmas, and several of Joe’s tools.
As Mrs Joe looks for the pie some soldiers arrive to get Joe to repair some shackles. Joe and Pip accompany them to see two convicts fighting, The first convict confesses to stealing food and this relieves Pip.
Some years later Miss Havisham, asks Mr Pumblechook, Joe’s uncle, to find a boy that will visit her at Satis House. She was jilted at the altar and still wears her wedding dress, the house has fallen into a dreadful state.
Pip visits and falls in love with Estella her adopted daughter. But Estella is aloof and hostile to him, she is encouraged to be so by Miss Havisham. On one visit another boy, Herbert Pocket, is there and picks a fight with Pip. Pip easily wins the fight, which Estella has watched. After the fight she lets Pip kiss her.
He continues to visit until he is old enough to be apprenticed. Joe accompanies to get the money from Miss Havisham for Pip to become an apprentice blacksmith. Pip proves ashamed of Joe at Salis House,
The surly assistant of Joe, Dolge Orlick, is envious of Pip and dislikes Mrs Joe. While Pip and Joe are away Mrs Joe is attacked, it leaves her unable to speak or to do her housework. Orlick is suspected of the attack. Mrs Joe becomes much more pleasant, as Biddy, a former school friend of Pip’s, moves in to take care of her.
Four years later, Mr Jaggers, a lawyer, informs Pip that a mystery benefactor has left him some money, this will enable him to become a gentleman. Assuming Miss Havisham is his benefactor, he goes to visit her.
Pip sets up house in London at Barnard’s Inn with Herbert Pocket, the son of his tutor, Matthew Pocket, a cousin to Miss Havisham. There he learns of Miss Havisham’s desertion. Fellow pupils included Bentley Drummle, a brute from a noble family, and Startop, rather more agreeable.
Jaggers disburses cash to Pip and while visiting him he meets Jagger’s housekeeper, Molly, who had been a convict.
Joe visits Pip at Barnard’s inn and it is evident that Pip is ashamed of being seen with him. But he delivers a message from Miss Havisham to say that Estella will be at Salis House. He visits her, meets Estella and finds he is encouraged by Miss Havisham. He does not visit Joe. He is disturbed to find Orlick working for Miss Havisham, on his return he tells Jaggers who promises to have him dismissed.
Herbert Pocket and Pip discuss their intentions, Pip talks of his adoration of Estella and Herbert reveals he is engaged to Clara Barley. The two young men develop debts, but when Pip comes of age, twenty-one, he has an income of £500 per annum. He plots with Jagger’s Clerk, Wemmick, to advance Herbert’s prospects by getting him employed by Clarrikers, a shipbroker.
Pip meets Estrella when she comes to Richmond to be introduced into society. In London Pip is outraged when Bentley Drummle proposes a toast to Estella. Then, at an Assembly Ball in Richmond, he sees the pair meeting, He warns Estella of Drummle, she scoffs that she is entrapping him.
When he is twenty-three, Pip learns from Abel Magwitch that he was in fact his benefactor, the convict he had met in the churchyard many years earlier. Magwitch who had been captured and transported to Australia. There he gained his freedom and become wealthy, though he is forbidden from returning to England. Yet, he has come back to see Pip, and considers him the reason for his success.
Pip and Herbert assist Magwitch in escaping England. But he suspects that Magwitch is actually Compeyson, the person who had defrauded and deserted Miss Haversham. He visits Salis House and accuses Miss Havisham of deliberately misleading him about his benefactor, she admits she did it to annoy her family. He sees Estrella there and confesses his love to her, but she coldly advises she is to marry Drummle. He is there and has taken on Orlick as his servant.
On another visit she tells him that Estella was now married and gives him the money to buy Herbert’s position with Clarriker’s.
Estella has an argument with Miss Havisham about her upbringing. Later, Miss Havisham’s dress catches fire and Pip saves her, injuring himself. She laments of her manipulation of Estella and Pip and eventually dies.
Miss Havisham had explained how Estella was brought to her by Jaggers and she knows nothing about her background. Pip believes that she is the child of Magwitch and Molly, Jaggers’ housekeeper. He learns that Molly had been rescued from the gallows for murder by Mr Jaggers. But Pip is discouraged by Jaggers from taking his suspicions further.
A few days before the Magwitch escape, Pip is lured to a sluice-house where Orlick seizes him, he freely admits to the attack of Mrs Joe and plans to kill Pip. But Herbert and Startop arrive and save him.
The three are rowing Magwitch to the Hamburg steamboat, when they are intercepted by the real Compeyson, intent on identifying Magwitch. He was his enemy and had been the convict that Magwitch was fighting during his escape. The two fight in the river,
seriously injured Magwitch is taken by the police. Compeyson’s body is found later. Magwich is condemned to death.
Herbert has been posted to Cairo and suggests Pip come with him.
Pip visits Magwitch in the prison and tells him, on his deathbed, that his daughter Estella is still alive. Magwitch dies from his injuries, his wealth has been confiscated by the Crown, leaving Pip destitute and he falls ill.
Joe nurses him back to health and pays off his debts, then slips away. Pip travels to propose marriage to Biddy, but on arrival he finds she has married Joe. Pip apologises to Joe and says he will repay him.
Herbert has been posted to Cairo and suggests Pip come with him. Pip joins Herbert and Clara in Cairo, where he works well and rises to be the third in the company. Herbert learns that his own position with the company had been paid for by Pip.
After eleven years in Cairo Pip visits England. He find Joe and Biddy have a son Pip Junior. He visits the ruins of Salis House where he meets Estella, the ‘freshness of her beauty gone but its indescribable majesty and its indescribable charm remaining’.
She asks him to forgive her and explains that her abusive marriage with Drummle has opened her heart. Drummle had died from an accident after mistreating a horse.
He takes her hand and comments that he sees ‘no shadow of another parting from her’.
Pip meets the escaped convict
Joe introduces Pip to Miss Havisham (and Estella)
Pip (Philip Pirrip) – the main protagonist, an orphan
Estella – the adopted daughter of Miss Havisham
Gargery, Joe – a gentle blacksmith married to Pip’s elder sister
Havisham, Miss – jilted at the altar,wears her wedding dress
Magwitch, Abel – the escaped convict on the marshes
Biddy – a second cousin of Pip’s, who later married Joe
Compeyson – the fraudster who abandoned Miss Haversham
Drummle, Bentley – brutish son of a noble family
Gargery, Mrs Joe – Georgina Maria is Pip’s sister
Jaggers – London lawyer who represents Pip’s benefactor
Pocket, Herbert – son of Matthew
Pocket, Matthew – cousin to Miss Havisham, tutor to Pip,
Startop – a fellow pupil of Pip’s
Herbert and Pip
Barley, Old Bill – Clara’s alcoholic father
Barley, Clara – a poor girl who marries Herbert
Bill, Black – a prisoner that Wemmick represents
Brandley, Mrs – introduces Estella into society
Camilla, Mrs – relative to Miss Havisham
Tom, Captain – a prisoner that Wemmick represents
Clarriker -a merchant with whom Herbert goes into business
Coiler, Mrs – a busybody neighbour to the Pockets
Colonel – one of Jagger’s clients in jail
Flopson, Sophia – works for the Pockets
Georgiana – member of Miss Havisham’s family
Havisham, Arthur – brother who plots with Compeyson
Hubble, Mr – inhabitant of Pip’s village, a wheelwright
Hubble, Mrs – inhabitant of Pip’s village,
Jack, The – an odd job man at an inn where Pip stays
Lazarus, Abraham – thief whom Jaggers represent
Mary Anne – young maid at Wemmicks
Millers – servant and nurse at the Pockets
Molly – Jaggers’ housekeeper, ex-convict, Magwitch’s wife
Orlick, Dolge – an day labourer at blacksmiths
Pepper – The Avenger – Pip’s servant
Pirrip, Philip Sr – Pip’s father buried in the graveyard
Pocket, Mrs Belinda – Herbert’s mother
Pocket Camilla- cousin to Miss Havisham, sister to Herbert
Pocket, Georgiana – relative to Miss Havisham
Pocket, Sarah – relative to Miss Havisham, an old lady
Pumblechook, Uncle – Joe Gargery’s uncle
Raymond – married to Camilla
Sally – Compeyson’s wife
Skiffins, Miss – visitor with green gloves at Wemmick’s
Skiffins, Mr – Miss Skiffins brother
Squires – the proprietor at the Blue Boar inn in Pip’s village
Trabb, Mr – local tailor and undertaker
Trabb’s Boy – Mr Trabb’s assistant
Wemmick, John – a clerk at Jaggers, a firm friend of Pip
Wemmick Sr (Aged Parent) -Wemmick’s deaf father
Whimple, Mrs – kindly landlady of the Barleys
William – servant at Pumblechooks
Wopsle, Mr – clerk of the church in Pip’s village