Great Expectations


Plot Summary

Great Expectations presents the story of Philip Pirrip, or “Pip,” a boy who struggles to escape his poor, orphaned beginnings to become a “gentleman.” Because his parents are deceased, Pip lives with his sister and her husband, Joe, in the Kent marshes of England. As Pip visits the graveyard where his parents are buried, a convict seems to emerge from the marsh. The convict commands Pip to bring him food and a file he can use to shave the iron off of his leg. Pip fearfully obeys and brings the convict food and a file he steals from his brother-in-law and father figure. To Pip’s surprise, the convict says that he stole the items himself, therefore saving Pip from getting in trouble.

Pip’s Uncle Pumblechook takes him to play at Satis House, which is the home of Miss Havisham and Estella, a beautiful young woman near Pip’s age. Despite his desire for Estella, Miss Havisham frightens Pip. She is quirky and eccentric; Miss Havisham consistently wears an old wedding dress, and she has all of the clocks in Satis House set at twenty ’til nine. Because of his attraction to Estella, Pip hopes that Miss Havisham will become his benefactor and make him a “gentleman.” Pip feels that if he becomes a gentleman, Estella will see him as a satisfactory candidate for her hand in marriage.

Instead of helping him become a gentleman, Miss Havisham helps Pip become apprenticed to Joe, who is a blacksmith. Pip struggles with the concept that he may never escape his humble beginnings. However, he is able to learn to read and write from a humble girl named Biddy. One of Joe’s laborers, a man named Orlick gets in an altercation with Pip’s sister, Mrs. Joe. Later, Pip’s sister is attacked. Unable to recover fully, Mrs. Joe becomes a mute invalid. She is able to draw on a small blackboard, and from her simple sketches, Pip deduces that Orlick is responsible for the crime.

To Pip’s surprise, one day a lawyer named Jaggers finds him and tells him that he must travel to London immediately....

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Essays About Great Expectations