Characters In Great Expectations

Characters In Great Expectations

Last Updated on April 23, 2020

This list of characters from Great Expectations is presented in alphabetical order.

Note: Includes spoilers!

Compeyson – Compeyson is a scoundrel.  He abandoned Miss Havisham on their wedding day.  Later he became Magwitch’s partner in crime but was shown leniency by the courts because of his gentlemanly appearance.

Joe Gargery – Joe is Pip’s brother-in-law.  He is a very kind man and he helped raise Pip after Pip’s parents died.  Joe is a blacksmith.

Joe learning to read, image by John McLenan

Joe learning to read, image by John McLenan

Mrs. Joe (Georgiana Mary) Gargery  – Frequently called “Mrs. Joe” she is the sister of Pip and the wife of Joe Gargery.  She raised Pip and is known for her fierce temper.

Some medical beast had revived tar-water in those days as a fine medicine, and Mrs. Joe always kept a supply of it in the cupboard; having a belief in its virtues correspondent to its nastiness. At the best of times, so much of this elixir was administered to me as a choice restorative, that I was conscious of going about, smelling like a new fence  – Pip

Mrs. Joe was a very clean housekeeper, but had an exquisite art of making her cleanliness more uncomfortable and unacceptable than dirt itself.  – Pip

Estella Havisham – She is the beautiful, adopted daughter of Miss Havisham.  Estella is taught to despise and torment men.

Great Expectations

Miss Havisham with Estella and Pip

“Moths, and all sorts of ugly creatures,” replied Estella, with a glance towards him, “hover about a lighted candle. Can the candle help it?”  – Estella

Miss Havisham – The wealthy Miss Havisham was deserted by her fiancé on her wedding day.  That horrible experience made her eccentric.  She lives in seclusion with her adopted daughter, Estella.  Miss Havisham teaches Estella to despise and torment men.

Pip waits on Miss Havisham

Miss Havisham and Pip

Also, when we played at cards Miss Havisham would look on, with a miserly relish of Estella’s moods, whatever they were. And sometimes, when her moods were so many and so contradictory of one another that I was puzzled what to say or do, Miss Havisham would embrace her with lavish fondness, murmuring something in her ear that sounded like, “Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!”  – Miss Havisham

Mr. Jaggers – Mr. Jaggers is a lawyer.  He is commissioned by Magwitch to dispense funds to Pip.

“Now, I return to this young fellow. And the communication I have got to make is, that he has great expectations.”  – Mr. Jaggers to Pip

Mrs. Joe – see Mrs. Gargery

Abel Magwitch – Pip first encountered Magwitch when Magwitch was an escaped convict.  Magwitch forced Pip to bring him food and supplies.  He thought of Pip kindly for this. 

Later Magwitch did well in Australia and became a wealthy man.  He became Pip’s secret benefactor.

Abel Magwitch

Abel Magwitch

Pip – See Philip Pirrip, Philip

Philip Pirrip – This character, also known as “Pip”, is the main character in Great Expectations.  Pip, like young Charles Dickens, dreams of becoming a gentleman.  During the course of the novel Pip learns that there are things much more important than wealth and station.

Herbert Pocket – Pip’s good friend.  They are roommates and later Herbert helps Pip to hide Magwitch.

Herbert and Pip, image by Marcus Stone

Herbert and Pip, image by Marcus Stone

We owed so much to Herbert’s ever cheerful industry and readiness, that I often wondered how I had conceived that old idea of his inaptitude, until I was one day enlightened by the reflection, that perhaps the inaptitude had never been in him at all, but had been in me.  – Pip

John Wemmick  – John Wemmick works as a clerk in Jaggers’ law firm.  He becomes a good friend of Pip.

Wemmick keeps a firm boundary between is work and home life.   He lives with his father, “The Aged Parent”.

Wemmick and his father

Wemmick and his aged father, The Aged P. – image by Sol Eytinge, Jr.

“No, the office is one thing, and private life is another. When I go into the office, I leave the Castle behind me, and when I come into the Castle, I leave the office behind me.”  – John Wemmick

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Great Expectations

Great Expectations

In Great Expectations, Pip, like Dickens himself, dreams of becoming a gentleman. However, during the novel, Pip comes to realize that there is more to life than wealth and station.