Great Expectations Questions and Answers
by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Write a short note on Magwitch in Great Expectations.

Although a rough man and a former criminal, Magwitch in Dickens's Great Expectations proves to be a true "gentleman." He is a kind, compassionate person who does not forget the simple people who helped him in the past. He is willing to pay for his crimes and work hard. He shows real affection to Pip.

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,070 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Magwitch is important to the plot of Great Expectations. He is an escaping convict who meets up with Pip in the lonely fens as the novel opens and frightens Pip into bringing him food and a file. The naturally generous Pip goes over and above board in providing Magwitch food and drink, feeling sympathy for his evident hunger and cold.

Years later, having been captured, sent to Australia, and survived to become a wealthy man, Magwitch credits Pip with saving his life. To repay the debt, he works hard so that he can set Pip up as a gentleman. Pip is horrified when he finds out that his benefactor is a criminal. However, Dickens is at pains to show—and Pip finally realizes—that Magwitch has a good heart. He is a simple, upright man who repents of his early misdeeds, is willing to pay the price of his crimes, shows true affection for Pip, and supports the novel's theme that real worth is internal not external. From lower-class characters like Magwitch and Joe, Pip learns that kindness, compassion, and the other qualities of a true gentleman come not from the clothes a person wears or the way they speak English, but from the way they treat other people. Rough as he is, Magwitch proves to be a "gentleman."

check Approved by eNotes Editorial