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What is Orlick's role and significance in Great Expectations? 

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noodles232 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 16, 2009 at 7:18 PM via web

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What is Orlick's role and significance in Great Expectations

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

Posted August 16, 2009 at 7:22 PM (Answer #1)

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Orlick plays a very important role in "Great Expectations" by Dickens.

Dickens presents Orlick as a foil to Pip. Orlick is first introduced in ch.15. as an assistant to Joe who has hired him as "a journeyman at weekly wages." Orlick is always jealous of Pip's privileged status as Joe's adopted son although he is supposed to be regarded only as an apprentice while working in the forge. This results in a lot of resentment and Orlick often quarrels with Joe over this issue. This jealousy and resentment has dangerous repercussions and proves almost fatal for Pip in ch.53 when Orlick almost manages to kill him.

It is then that the readers realise how much of bitterness and resentment Orlick has harboured against Pip:

"you was favoured, and he was bullied and beat. Old Orlick bullied and beat eh? Now you pays for it. You done it; now you pays for it."

It is also then that Orlick confesses that it was he who Killed Mrs.Joe because he couldn't stand her terrible temper, and that it was he who had been trailing Magwitch from the time he returned from Australia.

In ch.29 Pip meets Orlick as the watchman at Miss Havisham's house. We learn that Orlick had left the forge soon after Pip came to London and became a watchman at Miss Havisham's house. He lives in a small poorly ventilated room near the gate of Miss Havisham's house. He has been appointed as the watchman of the house because of the convicts who were escaping from the prison ships. This chance meeting serves only to increase Orlick's hatred for Pip who appears at Miss Havisham dressed smartly as a gentleman.

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