Great Expectations Additional Summary

Charles Dickens


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Little Pip was left an orphan when he was a small boy, and his much older sister grudgingly rears him in her cottage. Pip’s brother-in-law, Joe Gargery, on the other hand, is kind and loving to the boy. Pip often wanders alone in the marsh country where he lives with his sister and Joe. One day, he is accosted by a wild-looking stranger who is an escaped prisoner. He frightens Pip and demands that the boy secretly bring him food and a file to cut the iron chain that binds his leg. When Pip brings him a pork pie and file, he sees another mysterious figure on the marsh. This man engages in a desperate struggle with the escaped prisoner, then escapes into the fog. The man Pip aids promises that he will somehow repay the boy for helping him. He is later apprehended.

Mrs. Joe sends Pip to the large mansion of strange Miss Havisham upon that lady’s request. Miss Havisham lives in a gloomy, locked house where all the clocks were stopped on the day her bridegroom failed to appear for the wedding ceremony. She often dresses in her bridal robes; a wedding breakfast molds on the table in an unused room. Pip goes there every day to visit the old lady and a beautiful young girl, named Estella, who delights in tormenting the shy boy. Miss Havisham enjoys watching the two children together, and she encourages Estella in her haughty teasing of Pip.

Living in the grim atmosphere of Joe’s blacksmith shop and the uneducated poverty of his sister’s home, Pip is eager to learn. One day, a London solicitor named Jaggers presents him with the opportunity to go to London and become a gentleman. Both Pip and Joe accept the proposal. Pip imagines that his kind backer is Miss Havisham and that perhaps she wants to make a gentleman out of him so that he will be fit someday to marry Estella.

In London, Pip finds a small apartment set up for him. Herbert Pocket, a young relative of Miss Havisham, is his living companion. When Pip needs money, he is instructed to go to Mr. Jaggers. Although Pip pleads with the lawyer to disclose the name of his benefactor, Jaggers advises the eager young man not to make inquiries; when the proper time arrives, Pip’s benefactor will be made known.

Soon Pip becomes one of a small group of London dandies, among them a disagreeable chap named Bentley Drummle. To Pip’s dismay, Joe comes to visit; Pip, who has outgrown his rural background, is ashamed of Joe’s simple manners, but Herbert cheerfully helps Pip to entertain Joe in their apartment. After he leaves for the evening, Pip feels ashamed of himself. Joe had brought word that Miss Havisham wants to see the young man, so Pip returns to his old home with his brother-in-law. Miss Havisham and Estella note the changes in Pip, and when Estella leaves Pip alone with the old lady, she tells him he must fall in love with the beautiful girl. She also says it is time for Estella to come to London, and that she wishes Pip to meet her adopted daughter when she arrives. This request makes Pip feel even more certain that he was sent to London by Miss Havisham to be groomed to marry Estella.

Estella is not in London long before she has many suitors. Of all the men who court her, she seems to...

(The entire section is 1309 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Great Expectations, many readers' favorite Dickens novel, is immensely popular for its self-portrait of the author and for the warmth,...

(The entire section is 186 words.)


(Novels for Students)

The First Stage of Pip's Expectations
Charles Dickens' Great Expectations opens as seven-year-old Philip...

(The entire section is 1554 words.)