Form and Content (Masterplots II: Juvenile & Young Adult Literature Series, Supplement)
Great Expectations is an account of a young boy’s moral education. A study in human weakness, it depicts the rise in social status of the seven-year-old orphan Pip, the novel’s narrator and chief character and a kind of Everyman. On Christmas Eve in a cemetery, Pip meets Abel Magwitch, an escaped convict who makes him steal some food and a file from the forge where he lives with his sister and her husband, Joe Gargery, a blacksmith. Shortly thereafter, Pip is hired by a wealthy old woman named Miss Havisham to be a playmate for her beautiful adopted daughter, Estella.
Jilted years ago on her wedding day, Miss Havisham is a recluse. She lives in a world of the past at desolate Satis House, a home whose name means “enough”; the ancestor who built it believed that whoever lived there could never want more. During his frequent visits to Miss Havisham’s home, Pip begins to believe erroneously that her fortune will make him a gentleman, will bring him the love of Estella, and will provide him with prosperity. These are his great expectations.
Miss Havisham, however, has no hopes for happiness and no intention of leaving a legacy of happiness to anyone. Rather, she is a schemer who enjoys making nearly everyone around her miserable. She teaches Estella to hate men, exploits Pip, and vexes her ever-hopeful relatives. Although Pip eventually receives money from another source, Estella continues to scorn him and to be as coldly distant as a star. What Miss Havisham does is turn Estella and Pip into snobs.
In London, Pip matures while dealing with many strange situations. From Mr. Jaggers, a criminal lawyer who becomes his guardian, Pip discovers that he does indeed have a benefactor and great expectations. Jaggers gives Pip some money, and his clerk John Wemmick...
(The entire section is 740 words.)
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Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*River Thames (tehmz). River in southern England that runs through London to the North Sea. Several places that figure in the novel stand along the river. Some eight miles to the west of London lies Richmond, on the river’s south bank, a stylish town in Surrey. After her “finishing school,” Estella comes to live here in Mrs. Brandley’s house on Richmond Green, to be introduced into fashionable London society, to continue to break men’s hearts. It is thus an extension of Satis House as a locus for Miss Havisham’s revenge.
*Hammersmith. Town on the northern bank of the Thames, west of London. There the Pockets have a small riverside house, in which Pip is tutored together with Bentley Drummle and Startopp.
*The Temple. Central London district in which Pip and Herbert take rooms overlooking the river. Although this place symbolizes the pretentiousness of Pip’s life of expectations, it also marks the point where he enables Magwitch to escape, thereby bringing his false expectations to an end.
*Chinks Basin. District in London, downriver from the Temple, in the dock area below London Bridge, where Magwitch is secreted at the home of the father of Clara, Herbert’s girlfriend, at Mill Pond Bank.
*Marshes. Region along the lower reaches of the River Thames in which Pip grows up. The region is featured ambiguously as a place of childhood innocence and adult menace. Here Pip’s life is threatened by Magwitch and then Orlick; however, it is also where the warmth of Joe Gargery’s forge lies. Dickens seems to collapse notions of innocence, safety, and corruption at the same time he extends motifs of imprisonment and entrapment in the symbolic Hulks, dismasted naval ships used as floating prisons near the marshes. Ironically, the Thames reaches from the pretensions of Estella Havisham in the west to the sordid reality of her paternal origin in the east. The novel refocuses these two places by seeing the river’s flow, not as time, but...
(The entire section is 876 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 1 Questions and Answers
1. The novel is written in what point of view?
2. Where does the opening scene take place?
3. What is Pip’s full name?
4. Where are Pip’s parents?
5. With whom does Pip live?
6. What does Joe Gargery do for a living?
7. How is the first convict dressed? What is his appearance?
8. What does the first convict ask Pip to bring him?
9. Why did the first convict ask for a file?
10. Where is Pip to bring the food and the file the next morning?
1. The novel is written in first person point of view.
2. The opening scene takes place in a...
(The entire section is 213 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 2 and 3 Questions and Answers
1. When Pip returns from the churchyard, where is Mrs. Joe?
2. How many times has Mrs. Joe been out looking for Pip?
3. What does Pip mean when he says he was “brought up by hand”?
4. What is the Tickler?
5. Where does Pip hide his bread?
6. What does Mrs. Joe give Pip when she thinks he has eaten his bread too fast?
7. How are the people on shore warned when a convict has escaped from the Hulks?
8. What are the Hulks?
9. What is unusual about the second convict’s face?
10. Who does Pip think the second convict is?
1. Mrs. Joe is out...
(The entire section is 239 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 4 and 5 Questions and Answers
1. What is the occasion for having dinner guests at the Gargery’s?
2. What makes Pip uncomfortable during the Christmas dinner?
3. Who comes to the door just as Mrs. Joe is inviting the guests to taste her pork pie?
4. Why does Pip think the soldiers have come to his house?
5. Why have the soldiers actually come to the Gargery house?
6. When the two convicts are found, what are they doing?
7. What does the second convict claim the first convict tried to do to him?
8. How does Joe feel toward the first convict?
9. Who takes the blame for stealing the food from Mrs. Joe?
10. Where are...
(The entire section is 247 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 6 and 7 Questions and Answers
1. Why didn’t Pip tell Joe the truth concerning the convict and the theft?
2. What is probably the reason that Joe married Pip’s sister?
3. What does Mr. Wopsle’s great-aunt run in the evenings?
4. Even though Pip attends the evening school, who actually teaches Pip how to read and write?
5. What does Pip find out about Joe’s education?
6. What is the only word that Joe can read?
7. Pip agrees to help Joe learn to read and write. Why must they keep it a secret from Mrs. Joe?
8. What news do Uncle Pumblechook and Mrs. Joe bring home to Pip?
9. What does Miss Havisham ask Pip to come there to...
(The entire section is 263 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 8 and 9 Questions and Answers
1. What is the meaning of Satis?
2. At what time have all the clocks in Miss Havisham’s house stopped?
3. Who opens the gate to let Pip in at Miss Havisham’s?
4. What game does Pip play with Estella?
5. How is Miss Havisham dressed?
6. How does Estella hurt Pip’s feelings?
7. Who does Pip imagine he sees hanging from a beam in the brewery?
8. Why does Pip lie to Mrs. Joe and Uncle Pumblechook about his day at Miss Havisham’s?
9. Pip cannot lie to whom?
10. On what subject does Joe lecture Pip?
1. “Satis” in Satis House means enough....
(The entire section is 219 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 10 and 11 Questions and Answers
1. What does the mysterious stranger at the Three Jolly Bargemen stir his drink with?
2. What does the stranger give to Pip?
3. How does Estella treat Pip in these two chapters?
4. What is the Three Jolly Bargemen?
5. Who are the people waiting with Pip in the large room at Miss Havisham’s?
6. On what occasion are these people visiting Miss Havisham?
7. Describe what Pip sees on the bridal table.
8. Where does Miss Havisham want to be laid when she is dead?
9. What does Miss Havisham ask Pip to do on this visit?
10. What do Pip and the pale young gentleman do?
(The entire section is 260 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 12 and 13 Questions and Answers
1. What does Pip worry about before he returns to Miss Havisham’s?
2. What do Miss Havisham and Pip do every visit?
3. Why does Miss Havisham ask Pip to bring Joe to her house?
4. What does apprenticeship mean?
5. What does Miss Havisham pay Joe for Pip’s apprenticeship?
6. How does Joe embarrass Pip at Miss Havisham’s?
7. Who does Pip confide in?
8. What does Miss Havisham instruct Estella to do?
9. Who takes the credit for Pip’s apprenticeship?
10. How does Pip feel about his apprenticeship to Joe?
1. Pip worries that he will get...
(The entire section is 211 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 14 and 15 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Pip want to educate Joe?
2. What is the reason Pip gives Joe for wanting to return to Miss Havisham’s?
3. What is the real reason he wants to return to Miss Havisham’s?
4. Who meets Pip at Miss Havisham’s gate?
5. Where is Estella?
6. When does Miss Havisham invite Pip to return?
7. What is the name of Joe’s journeyman at the forge?
8. Who causes the fight between Orlick and Joe?
9. Who joins Pip and Mr. Wopsle on their walk home?
10. What happens at home while Pip is in the village?
1. Pip wants to educate Joe to make him...
(The entire section is 215 words.)
Part 1, Chapters 16 and 17 Questions and Answers
1. What important piece of evidence was left beside Mrs. Joe’s body?
2. Mrs. Joe lives, but how is she afflicted?
3. What does Mrs. Joe repeatedly draw on her slate?
4. When Mrs. Joe draws this figure, who does she want to see?
5. What does the “T” represent?
6. Who are the two people Pip suspects could be Mrs. Joe’s attacker?
7. Who comes to live at the forge and cares for Mrs. Joe?
8. When Pip returns to see Miss Havisham on his birthday, what does she give him?
9. Who does Pip confide in that he wants to be a gentleman?
10. What is the reason that Pip wants to be a gentleman?...
(The entire section is 219 words.)
Part 1, Chapter 18 and 19 Questions and Answers
1. Who informs Pip that he has great expectations?
2. What are the three stipulations of the inheritance?
3. Who is to be Pip’s guardian while he is in London?
4. Who is to be Pip’s tutor while he is in London?
5. When Mr. Jaggers offers Joe money to compensate for the loss of Pip’s services, what does the blacksmith do?
6. Who does Pip believe is his benefactor?
7. Why does Pip visit Mr. Trabb, the tailor?
8. How does the reader know that Biddy understands Joe better than Pip does?
9. How has the behavior of Mr. Pumblechook and Mr. Trabb changed toward Pip?
10. Where is Pip going...
(The entire section is 286 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 20 and 21 Questions and Answers
1. What is the name of Mr. Jaggers’ clerk?
2. What is the name of the “pale young gentleman”?
3. What is Pip’s impression of London?
4. What is the name of the inn where Pip is to live?
5. What does Mr. Jaggers give to Pip?
6. Who walks Pip to Barnard’s Inn?
7. What kind of lawyer is Mr. Jaggers?
8. Where have Pip and Herbert Pocket met before now?
9. What is Pip’s impression of Mr. Jaggers?
10. What is the name of the prison located near Mr. Jaggers’ office?
1. Mr. Wemmick is the name of Mr. Jaggers’ clerk.
(The entire section is 230 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 22 and 23 Questions and Answers
1. How does Herbert feel about Estella?
2. What name does Herbert give to Pip?
3. Why is Pip named Handel?
4. What is one of the first lessons Herbert teaches Pip?
5. What relation is Estella to Miss Havisham?
6. Does Miss Havisham have any brothers or sisters?
7. Who did Mr. Havisham leave his vast fortune to after his death?
8. What two men conspired to swindle Miss Havisham out of her money?
9. Which character is obsessed with peerage, titles, and nobility?
10. Who are the other two students living at Matthew Pocket’s home?
(The entire section is 228 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 24 and 25 Questions and Answers
1. When Pip is invited to Mr. Jaggers’ home, who does Wemmick want Pip to notice?
2. Where does Mr. Wemmick live?
3. What does Mr. Wemmick call his home?
4. What does Mr. Wemmick call his father?
5. What does Mr. Wemmick do every night at nine o’clock?
6. What is wrong with Mr. Wemmick’s father?
7. What does Mr. Wemmick call his cannon?
8. How is Pip instructed to acknowledge the Aged Parent?
9. Who is the delicate young man being tutored by Mr. Pocket?
10. Who is the sulky young man being tutored by Mr. Pocket?
1. Wemmick tells Pip to pay...
(The entire section is 182 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 26 and 27 Questions and Answers
1. What name does Mr. Jaggers give Bentley Drummle?
2. Who is Molly?
3. What is unusual about Molly?
4. Who writes Pip a letter?
5. Who is coming to see Pip in London?
6. What keeps falling off the mantle during Pip and Joe’s visit?
7. What news does Joe bring Pip?
8. Mr. Jaggers warns Pip not to have much to do with one of his roommates. Who is it?
9. Is Pip glad to see Joe in London?
10. Who travels with Joe to London?
1. Mr. Jaggers calls Bentley Drummle “the Spider.”
2. Molly is Mr. Jaggers’ housekeeper.
(The entire section is 179 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 28 and 29 Questions and Answers
1. Where does Pip stay when he reaches his village?
2. Does Pip go to see Joe, Biddy, and his sister while he is in town?
3. Who rides on the coach with Pip?
4. What does Pip overhear the convicts discussing?
5. When Pip arrives in his village, who does he find has taken all the credit for his good fortune?
6. Who admits Pip into Miss Havisham’s gate and is now working for her?
7. How has Estella changed since the last time Pip saw her?
8. What does Miss Havisham tell Pip to do to Estella?
9. How does Pip recognize Estella when he first arrives?
10. Who does Pip envision restoring...
(The entire section is 274 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 30 and 31 Questions and Answers
1. How does Orlick lose his job at Miss Havisham’s house?
2. How is Pip treated by the townspeople?
3. How is Pip treated by Trabb’s boy?
4. Why does Pip send Joe a gift?
5. What does Pip send Joe?
6. Who does Pip confide in?
7. What does Herbert confide to Pip?
8. What is the name of Herbert’s fiancee?
9. When does Herbert plan to marry his fiancee?
10. What play is being performed by Mr. Wopsle?
1. Pip tells Mr. Jaggers that he does not believe that Orlick should be in a position of trust, and Mr. Jaggers tells Pip that he will fire...
(The entire section is 198 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 32 and 33 Questions and Answers
1. Pip receives a note. Who is it from?
2. Who is coming to London?
3. Where does Mr. Wemmick take Pip?
4. What is Pip’s impression of Newgate Prison?
5. What is Mr. Wemmick’s relationship with the prisoners?
6. A simile is used to compare Mr. Wemmick in Newgate Prison to something else. What is it?
7. Where is Estella to live?
8. Why is Estella moving to Richmond?
9. How do Miss Havisham’s relatives feel about Pip?
10. Mr. Pocket is a lecturer on “domestic economy.” Why is this ironic?
1. The note Pip receives is from Estella.
(The entire section is 245 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 34 and 35 Questions and Answers
1. Does Pip’s fortune bring him happiness?
2. Pip feels guilty for his part in getting someone in debt. Who is it?
3. Why doesn’t Pip pay Herbert’s debts?
4. When Herbert and Pip try to straighten out their affairs, what is accomplished?
5. Pip receives a letter from Trabb and Co. What does it say?
6. Why is Biddy going to leave the forge now?
7. What is Biddy going to do to earn a living?
8. Who is still lurking around the forge spying on Biddy?
9. What does Pip promise Biddy?
10. What is Biddy’s response to Pip’s promise?
(The entire section is 268 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 36 and 37 Questions and Answers
1. Why does Mr. Jaggers send for Pip?
2. What new financial arrangements are initiated when Pip comes of age?
3. What information does Pip want from Mr. Jaggers?
4. What does Pip want Mr. Wemmick to help him do?
5. Who is going to help with the arrangements for Herbert’s future?
6. What does the Aged Parent like to read each night?
7. Who is the shipping merchant who agrees to help Pip with his plan?
8. What device separates Mr. Wemmick from the rest of the world?
9. Who is Mr. Wemmick’s lady-friend?
10. How much money did Pip receive on his birthday?
(The entire section is 246 words.)
Part 2, Chapters 38 and 39 Questions and Answers
1. Whom does Pip accompany back to Satis House?
2. When Pip cannot sleep at night, who does he see in the hallways carrying a candle like a ghost?
3. Someone is courting Estella that Pip does not approve of. Who is it?
4. Estella admits that she deceives and entraps every suitor except one. Who is that one?
5. What is the weather like when Pip is visited by his benefactor?
6. Where has the convict been working all this time? What has he been doing?
7. Who is Pip’s benefactor?
8. Where does the convict stay for the night?
9. How does Pip feel about the convict staying with him?
(The entire section is 256 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 40 and 41 Questions and Answers
1. What is the real name of Pip’s convict?
2. What name is the convict traveling under?
3. What is Pip going to tell his acquaintances concerning the convict?
4. Why does the convict return to London?
5. What will happen to the convict if he is found in London?
6. Why does Mr. Jaggers keep referring to Magwitch in New South Wales and Provis who will probably come to London to see Pip?
7. Why is Pip afraid of the convict?
8. Who helps Pip decide what to do with the convict?
9. Who is hiding on the stairs in the dark?
10. Will Pip continue taking money from the convict?
(The entire section is 379 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 42 and 43 Questions and Answers
1. Who is Compeyson?
2. Who was Arthur?
3. What happened to Arthur?
4. Who did Arthur see shaking a shroud at him?
5. Who was the real mastermind of the crimes committed by Compeyson and Provis?
6. Why does Pip fear Compeyson?
7. Who accompanies Estella back to Satis House?
8. Why does Pip return to the village to see Estella?
9. Who does the man who helps Drummle light his cigar resemble?
10. Why were Compeyson and Provis sentenced differently?
1. Compeyson is the man who jilted Miss Havisham. He, Arthur, and Provis were partners at one time....
(The entire section is 307 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 44 and 45 Questions and Answers
1. What favor does Pip ask of Miss Havisham?
2. What confession does Pip make to Estella?
3. Who does Estella plan to marry?
4. Who are the two relatives that Pip ask Miss Havisham not to include with the self-seekers?
5. How does Pip get back to London?
6. What does the night watchman give to Pip, and what does it say?
7. Who has written a warning note to Pip?
8. What two characters are responsible for relocating Provis?
9. Where is Provis now living?
10. What character is in London and threatens the safety of Provis?
1. Pip asks Miss Havisham...
(The entire section is 216 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 46 and 47 Questions and Answers
1. In whose boarding house if Provis now living?
2. Where is the boarding house located?
3. What is wrong with Clara’s father?
4. How often is Pip to go see Provis?
5. How are Pip and Herbert preparing to help Provis escape from London?
6. How is Provis to signal Pip that everything is all right?
7. What name is Provis now going by?
8. Because Pip has no more money, what does he have to do to raise some money?
9. Whom does Pip see at the theater?
10. Who is sitting behind Pip in the theater?
1. Provis is now staying at Mrs. Whimple’s...
(The entire section is 251 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 48 and 49 Questions and Answers
1. Who does Pip believe is Estella’s mother? How does he come to this conclusion?
2. How did Mr. Jaggers first meet Molly?
3. What does Miss Havisham agree to do for Pip?
4. How much money will Pip need to complete setting Herbert up in business?
5. When Pip returns to visit Miss Havisham, how has she changed?
6. What three words does she want Pip to write under her name?
7. What happens to Miss Havisham?
8. How is Pip injured?
9. Where is Miss Havisham placed after the fire?
10. Who brought Estella to Miss Havisham?
1. While dining with Mr....
(The entire section is 266 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 50 and 51 Questions and Answers
1. Who takes care of Pip’s injuries?
2. What name does Herbert call Clara’s father?
3. What did Provis’ wife tell him that she was going to do with their child?
4. Who is Estella’s father?
5. Where does Pip go to confirm Provis’ story?
6. Does Provis know that his daughter is alive?
7. How is the relationship between Pip and Mr. Jaggers different?
8. Will the knowledge of Estella’s parents be kept a secret?
9. Why will Pip not tell Estella of the identity of her parents?
10. Who is the client who interrupts the confrontation between Pip and Mr. Jaggers?
(The entire section is 272 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 52 and 53 Questions and Answers
1. What two people write Pip a letter in these chapters, and what do they say?
2. What day is Pip planning to help Provis escape?
3. Who is going to help row the boat to the steamer?
4. Where is the steamer going that Pip and Provis are planning to board?
5. At what time was Pip to be at the marshes?
6. Who is taking all the credit for Pip’s great expectations?
7. What does Orlick plan to do to Pip?
8. Why does Orlick consider Pip his enemy?
9. Who killed Mrs. Joe?
10. Who rescues Pip from Orlick?
1. Wemmick writes Pip a letter telling him...
(The entire section is 265 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 54 and 55 Questions and Answers
1. On what day does Pip, Herbert, and Startop begin their planned escape for Provis?
2. Who alerts the four that a four-oared galley is traveling up and down in front of the public house?
3. On what day do the four meet the steamer?
4. What happens as the steamer approaches?
5. Who is the man in the other galley who is wrapped up in a great coat?
6. What happens to Magwitch?
7. What happens to Compeyson?
8. What will happen to all of Magwitch’s money and possessions?
9. Where is Herbert going to work?
10. What position does Herbert offer Pip?
(The entire section is 257 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 56 and 57 Questions and Answers
1. What injuries did Magwitch sustain when he fell out of the boat?
2. What verdict does the judge pass down to Magwitch?
3. What does Pip do after the judge sentences Magwitch?
4. What does Pip tell Magwitch before he dies?
5. What happens to Pip after the death of Magwitch?
6. Who comes to care for Pip?
7. What has happened to Miss Havisham?
8. What has happened to Orlick?
9. What does Joe leave in his farewell letter to Pip?
10. Who does Pip decide to ask to marry him?
1. Magwitch broke two ribs and injured his lung, making breathing very...
(The entire section is 243 words.)
Part 3, Chapters 58 and 59 Questions and Answers
1. When Pip returns to his village and the Blue Boar, how do the townspeople treat him?
2. What is happening to Satis House?
3. Who still believes that he is the original benefactor for Pip’s fortunes?
4. Pip returns on a very special day in the lives of Biddy and Joe. What is it?
5. What does Pip beg Joe and Biddy to do?
6. Where does Pip go after leaving Joe and Biddy?
7. How many years did Pip stay away from London before returning again?
8. When Pip returns to see Joe and Biddy, what new additions have occurred in their family?
9. What has happened to Estella?
10. Pip goes to look...
(The entire section is 272 words.)
Compare and Contrast
Topics for Discussion
Ideas for Reports and Papers
Topics for Further Study
What Do I Read Next?
For Further Reference
Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Hornback, Bert G. “Great Expectations”: A Novel of Friendship. Boston: Twayne, 1987. Helpful introduction to the novel’s historical context, guilt theme, point of view, and symbols and images. Includes chapters on Pip and Magwitch that focus on Pip’s moral education. Argues that the novel’s significance lies in its thesis that evil in society can be fought only by confronting it in the self. Includes an annotated bibliography.
Johnson, Edgar. Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph. 2 vols. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1952. A standard biography that includes a chapter on Great Expectations, which provides a...
(The entire section is 256 words.)