Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations Summary

Topics: Writer

Tells the powerful story of a young orphaned boy, Pip, and his journey through childhood to adulthood, following the life-changing events, which challenge him along the way. We see how he develops into a young man, engulfed in aspiring to achieve his ambitions. Lacking parental love and support due to the early death of his parents, he lives under the mercy of his elder sister Mrs. Joe. An abrupt, hot-tempered woman lacking sympathy for others, viewing Pip as an unfortunate hindrance with which she is burdened.

Her husband, Mr Joe Gargery, An uneducated Black Smith, has quite the opposite temperament to his wife. He appears rather inadequate in her presence, sharing the same childlike fear of her unusual female dominance as Pip, rather than daring to show his own male assertiveness. Pip forms a strong bond with Joe throughout his childhood.

Pip is originally set to become an apprentice to Joe as a blacksmith. However, when he receives a request to attend to Miss Havisham at Satis House, an archetypical bride jilted at the altar.

Mrs. Joe sees it as a grand opportunity for Pip to earn his fortune. Upon his arrival to Satis House, the young and beautiful Estella greets Pip. Who is in the care of Miss Havisham?

Failing to recover from her grief of being jilted at the altar, Miss Havisham lives a life of seclusion, while the time and atmosphere in the house are made to stand still. To seek her revenge upon men, Miss Havisham raises Estella to ruthlessly break their hearts.

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Pip is yet to experience this, mystified by Estella’s harsh arrogance towards him, and her dismissive manner. Repeatedly addressing him as “Boy”, as if enforcing his insignificance. As an adult he reflects on his sensitive emotions as a child and how he struggled to maintain his composure on occasions, here this may be reflected from Dickens’ own experiences.

Great Expectation Summary

During his visits to Satis House Dickens shows how Pip’s distaste grew for Estella, yet accompanied by his lust and awe for her. He is constantly goaded by Miss Havisham to admire her, developing a strong passion for her and becomes engulfed by her spell, drawn in by her beauty and arrogance, finding it mystifying and intriguing. As time passes by pip becomes angered by Estella’s indifference towards him, feelings of distress and irritation begin to burden Pip. “Her contempt for me was so strong, it became infectious and I caught it.”

Here pip explains how strongly he was affected by Estella’s mental cruelty. He describes it as becoming so “infectious, that he caught it,” feeling that there was no escape from the spell of contempt. However, he may have wanted to be infected, even though he loathed her contempt, he grasped onto it, unable to release his passion for her. He becomes discontented with his social status, due to Estella referring to him as “poor and common” Dickens writes strongly about the effects of social classes, which has been an issue of importance during his own life. It causes Pip to feel inadequate and bitter lacking the qualities he does not possess to gain Estella’s acceptance, let alone her affection. She later becomes the main source of his need to for fill his goals and ambitions.

However, during Pip’s visits to Miss Havisham’s, there are brief moments where Estella shows Pip a mild affection, occasionally kissing him on the cheek and generally lowering her harsh persona. This of course inspires Pip’s longing for her, although he is perfectly aware that there is a remaining distance between them where social status is concerned. When Miss Havisham decides that it is time to let Pip go, she gives him a sum of money for his apprenticeship to her and tells him to return to his original apprenticeship as a blacksmith. Pip and Mr. and Mrs. Joe are slightly mystified by Miss Havisham, as they had been confident that she was to be pip’s benefactor and make his fortune, yet this did not appear to be the case.

After leaving Miss Havisham’s, returning to the forge with Mr. and Mrs. Joe, Pip becomes restless, remaining discontented with his life and apprenticeship to Joe. Wanting to seek a better fortune aspiring to greater expectations… After Pip had remained at the forge for some time, they received a visit from a respectable lawyer from London, named Mr. Jaggers. Pip immediately recalled seeing him attending Miss Havisham’s during his visits to Satis House and concluded that he had been sent on her behalf. Mr Jaggers proceeded to inform Pip that he was to come into a “handsome property, and must be removed from his current sphere of life, and brought up as a gentleman with great expectations” ” My dream was out; my wild fantasy was surpassed by sober reality; Miss Havisham was going to make my fortune on a grand scale.”

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Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations Summary. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations Summary
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