Characters of Great Expectations.

 

Pip.

The protagonist and narrator of Great Expectations, Pip begins the story as a young orphan boy being raised by his sister and brother-in-law in the marshes of northern Kent.

My father’s family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.

 Opening lines of Great Expectations.

 

A stern looking Mrs. Joe Gargery dismounts from a carriage, helped by her obedient husband and Pip.

Mr. Joe Gargery.

Joe is Pip’s brother-in-law and the village blacksmith. He lives with his abusive and overbearing, abusive wife, simply known as Mrs. Joe.

 

Mrs. Joe Gargery.

Pip’s older and abusive sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery is not referred to by her first name in the novel and simply “Mrs. Joe”.

 


Miss Havisham.

A wealthy, eccentric old woman who lives in the huge but run-down mansion Satis House near Pip’s village. Abandoned by her intended husband on her wedding day, she lays waste to the buildings and grounds, even stopping the clocks at the exact time she learned of her lover’s betrayal (twenty minutes to nine).

 


Estella.

Miss Havisham’s beautiful young ward. Although she grows up not knowing who her real parents are, Pip later discovers she is the child of the convict Abel Magwitch and Molly (who becomes Mr. Jagger’s’ housekeeper). Mr. Jagger’s secures the child a good future by placing Estella with Miss Havisham.

Miss Havisham instills a bitterness towards men in Estella, who does not return Pip’s, or any other boy’s, affections towards her. Estella is chased by and marries the cruel Bentley Drummle, but later widowed. She is eventually changed by her experiences and time which brings Pip back into her life.

I must be taken as I have been made. The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together make me.

Estella describes her cold personality in Great Expectations.

Magwitch suprises Pip in the churchyard.


Abel Magwitch.

A fearsome criminal, Magwitch escapes from a prison ship at the beginning of Great Expectations and terrorizes Pip in the grounds of a churchyard. However Pip’s subsequent kindness to him makes a deep impression.

A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared, and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin.

Pip describes Abel Magwitch after being startled by him in the churchyard at the beginning of Great Expectations.

 


Mr. Jaggers. An important lawyer, this image shows his clients quite literally hanging onto his coattails.

Mr. Jaggers.

A lawyer based in Little Britain, near the Smithfield area of London. He is served by his assistant, Mr. Wemmick and his housekeeper, Molly.

He was a burly man of an exceedingly dark complexion, with an exceedingly large head, and a corresponding large hand.

Pip describes Jaggers upon his first encounter, on the stairs of Satis House, whilst both are visiting Miss Havisham.

 

Jaggers is a lawyer to Miss Havisham, where Pip first encounters him on a visit to Satis House as a boy. Later in the story, Jaggers will visit Pip and Joe Gargery at the Forge to deliver the good news that he is to become a gentleman. Jaggers becomes Pip’s guardian whilst he is in London, responsible for managing the affairs of Pip’s mysterious benefactor. As a lawyer, Jaggers is very successful and economical with his words at times.

Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.

Jaggers is careful with his words, in this case so as not to incriminate his client, Abel Magwitch.

Jaggers lives in a rather plain house in Gerrard Street, Soho (which pip describes following a visit for dinner in Chapter 26).

 


Mr. John Wemmick.

Wemmick is Mr Jaggers’s clerk and becomes a friend to Pip after he moves to London. Pip describes Wemmick as “a dry man, rather short in stature, with a square wooden face, whose expression seemed to have been imperfectly chipped out with a dull-edged chisel“.

Wemmick owns a house in Walworth which is modelled as a castle, complete with a drawbridge, cannon and moat. Wemmick appears to have a split personality. In the employ of Jaggers he adopts an uncaring attitude towards clients whilst in private he is more joyous, particularly around his fiance, Miss Skiffins. During a visit to the office of Jaggers, Pip notes his that his personality “was as dry and distant to me as if there were twin Wemmicks, and this was the wrong one” (Chapter 48).

The clerk had the same air of knowing something to everybody else’s disadvantage.

Description of Wemmick.

Molly.

Mr. Jagger’s housekeeper. She works for the lawyer Mr. Jaggers after he managed to get her off from a murder charge. It later emerges that she is the mother of Estella. Wemmick describes Molly as “a wild beast tamed” whilst Pip compares her face to something from the witches cauldron in Macbeth.

 


Mr. Herbert Pocket.

The character of Herbert Pocket first appears as a boy who challenges Pip to a fight in the garden of Satis House, whilst Pip is visiting Miss Havisham. Later in Great Expectations, Pip moves to London under the guardianship of Mr. Jaggers and lives with Pocket at chambers in Barnards Inn. In London, Pocket helps to give Pip lessons in being a gentleman.

 


Mr. Bentley Drummle.

Bentley Drummle is a rich cad who pursues and eventually marries Estella, to Pip’s great anguish. An abusive husband he is later killed whilst mistreating a horse, leaving the widowed Estella free to rekindle her friendship with Pip..


 

Illustrations on this page are by the artist Frederick W Pailthorpe from an 1885 edition of Great Expectations, 25 years after the story was first published.

 

 

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