Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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In Great Expectations, who are Pip, Magwitch, Joe, Miss Havisham and Estella?

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Pip (whose given name is Phillip Pirrip) is the narrator of Great Expectations.  The reader follows Pip through his journey to achieve his expectations as well as his disillusionment that all was not as he "expected".  He never expected that his benefactor would be Abel Magwich, the criminal he helped in the cemetery and not the wealthy Miss Havisham.  Magwich escapes from prison and is aided with food and drink by a young Pip, but is re-captured by the police.  Magwich remembered the boy's kindness, and when he later escapes to Australia, he secretly becomes the boy's benefactor.  Joe is Pip's brother-in-law who took Pip in when his parents died.  He is kind to Pip, unlike Mrs. Joe who "brings him up by hand" and goes after Pip with "the tickler".  Miss Havisham, after being left at the alter by Compeyson, became a bitter recluse.  She adopted Estella, Magwich's daughter, and raised the girl to break men's hearts, extracting Miss Havisham's twisted revenge on all men.  Pip falls in love with Estella, and Miss Havisham encourages him to "love her" just so that his heart would be broken.  Even though Estella warns Pip against loving her, he does so anyway.

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Pip is both the narrator and character in the novel. He is conscientious, yet immature. He wants to improve himself, and marry Estella. Magwitch is a hardened criminal, who at first terrorizes Pip, but the goodness of Pip's heart changes him into his most devoted benefactor. Miss Havisham is a vengeful woman who was left by her fiance on her wedding day. She never gets over this, and when she adopts Estella, it is to use her as a weapon for revenge. Estella was born into lowly social ranks, adopted by Miss Havisham, and raised to be cruel to men. She uses this well towards poor Pip. Men of a high social class do not treat her well. Meaning, money does not buy happiness.Joe is Pip's brother-in-law. He is married to "Mrs. Joe", a mean woman that he stays with solely out of love for Pip. Pip treats him coldly even though he is a good, decent man.

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