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date: 17 April 2024

Great Expectations 

The Oxford Companion to English Literature
Dinah BirchDinah Birch

A novel by Charles *Dickens, which first appeared in All the Year Round 1860–61, in volume form 1861. It describes the development of the character of the narrator, Philip Pirrip, commonly known as ‘Pip’, a village boy brought up by his tyrannical sister, the wife of the gentle blacksmith Joe Gargery. He is introduced to the house of Miss Havisham, who, half‐crazed by the desertion of her lover on her bridal night, has brought up the girl Estella to use her beauty as a means of torturing men. Pip falls in love with Estella, and aspires to become a gentleman. Money and expectations of more wealth come to him from a mysterious source, which he believes to be Miss Havisham. He goes to London, and in his new mode of life meanly abandons the devoted Joe Gargery, a humble connection of whom he is now ashamed. Misfortunes come upon him. His benefactor proves to be an escaped convict, Abel Magwitch, whom he, as a boy, had helped; his great expectations fade away and he is penniless. Estella marries his sulky enemy Bentley Drummle, by whom she is cruelly ill treated. Taught by adversity, Pip returns to Joe Gargery and honest labour, and is finally reunited with Estella, who has also learnt her lesson. Other notable characters in the book are Joe's uncle, the impudent old impostor Pumblechook; Jaggers, the skilful Old Bailey lawyer, and his good‐hearted clerk Wemmick; and Pip's friend in London, Herbert Pocket. ... ...

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