When a terrified four year old Pip is coerced into bringing an escaped convict food, he sets into motion a chain of events that will determine the direction of his life and explain that of others. Beginning from humble origins as an orphan raised by his mean sister and kind brother-in-law, Joe, Pip's eye is drawn to a more lavish and aristocratic lifestyle when he meets the eccentric old Miss Havisham and her beautiful niece Estella.
Pip receives notice of "great expectations" - the term for the potential inheritance of a large fortune. Pip moves closer to the glamorous life and people he desires, and yet further from those who truly love him. As life sends a series of ups and downs his way, Pip is forced to confront hard facts about his chosen lifestyle and learn who his true friends are.
But the identity of his mysterious benefactor continues to haunt him. And the lovely Estella, for whom he craves, could she be part of this inheritance? Why is someone grooming him to be a gentleman? And who? All these questions and more are answered as the story unfolds in this powerful work.
Book in Detail
Characters to Personalise
Pip - Philip Pirip. He is the narrator and hero of the novel. He is a sensitive orphan raised by his sister and brother-in-law in rural Kent. After showing kindness to an escaped convict, he becomes the beneficiary of a great estate. He rejects his common upbringing in favour of a more refined life in London, unaware that his benefactor is actually the convict. By the end of the novel he learns a great lesson about friendship and loyalty, and gives up his "great expectations" in order to be more true to his past.
Miss Havisham - A bitter and eccentric old lady who was long ago jilted on her wedding day. She continues to wear her faded wedding gown, though it is old and yellowed. The cake, rotted after all these years, still adorns her dining room table. Twisted by her own hatred and resentment, she lives in cobwebbed darkness with her adopted daughter Estella, whom she has raised to be a man-hater.
Estella - The beautiful adopted daughter of Miss Havisham. Haughty and contemptuous, she is a girl with a very cold heart. She has been brought up to wreak revenge on the male sex on Miss Havisham's behalf. She is honest with Pip when she tells him she is incapable of returning his love.
Joe Gargery - A simple and honest blacksmith, and the long-suffering husband of Mrs. Joe. He is Pip's brother-in-law, as well as a loyal friend and ally. He loves and supports Pip unconditionally, even when Pip is ashamed of him and abandons him. By the end of the novel, Pip realises the true worth of Joe's friendship.
Mrs. Joe - Pip’s sister and Joe’s wife, known only as “Mrs. Joe” throughout the novel. Mrs. Joe is a stern and overbearing figure to both Pip and Joe. She keeps a spotless household and frequently menaces her husband and her brother with her cane, which she calls “Tickler.” She also forces them to drink a foul-tasting concoction called tar-water. Mrs. Joe is petty and ambitious; her fondest wish is to be something more than what she is, the wife of the village blacksmith.