Below is a list of some of the major characters in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.
Philip Pirrip (known as Pip)
Pip is the narrator and the protagonist of the novel. At the start of the novel he is a young orphaned by Boy who is being cared for by his older sister Georgiana Maria (known as Mrs Joe) and her husband Joe Gargery, in the marsh country in Kent. At heart Pip is passionate and romantic and he tends to expect much more of himself than is reasonable. Pip deeply wants to improve his lot in life.
Joe Gargery is Pip’s brother in law, and his father figure. He only stays with his hot tempered and abusive wife because of his love for Pip. Joe is always kind to Pip and is disappointed when Pip leaves the village to live in London and become a gentleman rather than be a blacksmith in business with him. He bears the shortcomings of those closest to him.
Mrs Joe is Pip’s older sister and Joe’s wife, she is only known as Mrs Joe throughout the novel. She is a stern overbearing person who menaces both Pip and Joe. She is petty and ambitious and wishes she was of a higher social status not the wife of the village blacksmith.
Estella is Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter. Throughout the novel she is pursued by Pip. As a girl she is beautiful and she gets even more beautiful after she returns from her schooling in France. Estella represents the life of culture and wealth for which Pip aspires. Estella warns Pip that she can’t return his love as Miss Havisham has ruined her ability to love. Pip does not believe her despite her warnings. During the novel Pip finds out that Estella is the daughter of Molly, Jagger’s housekeeper and the convict Magwitch, she was given up for adoption to Miss Havisham after her mother was arrested for murder (Estella does not know any of this). She rebels against Miss Havisham’s plan for her to break her husband Bentley Drummle’s heart, as he is not interested in Estella romantically; he is only interested in the Havisham fortune.
Miss Havisham is a very wealthy old spinster who is the adopted mother of Estella. She lives in a manor called Satis House which is near Pip’s village in Kent. She takes Pip on as a companion to herself and Estella. Miss Havisham is an eccentric woman who has worn her wedding dress and one shoe since the day (many years ago) when she was jilted at the alter by her fiancé. As a result of her being jilted she has become bitter and hates all men. She uses Estella, teaching her to use, torment and spurn men, including Pip who loves her. Later in the novel Miss Havisham sees the error of her ways and shows remorse for ruining both Estella and Pip’s chances of happiness. Not long after begging Pip’s forgiveness for her plotting, she is badly burned when her wedding dress catches fire. Later in the novel Pip learns from Joe that Miss Havisham has died.
Bentley Drummle is a minor member of the nobility and as such has a sense of superiority over everyone else. He is an unpleasant young man who attends tutoring sessions with Pip, and eventually marries Estella, to Pip’s disgust. After Drummle die’s eleven years after the marriage, Pip and Estella are reunited.
Abel Magwitch is a convict who has recently escaped from a prison ship at the start of the novel. He terrorises a young Pip in a cemetery when he is visiting his dead parent’s graves. Pip’s kindness towards Magwitch makes a deep impression on him and he devotes himself to making a fortune and using it to help provide an education for Pip and thus elevate him into a higher social class. He becomes Pip’s secret benefactor, funding not only Pip’s education but also an opulent lifestyle in London through his lawyer Jaggers.
Compeyson is the former criminal partner of Magwitch, he is educated and gentlemanly and as such is treated much less harshly by the courts than Magwitch. He is responsible for Magwitch’s final capture at the end of the novel. It was Compeyson who jilted Miss Havisham on her wedding day.
Mr Jaggers is a lawyer hired by Magwitch to supervise Pip’s elevation to a gentleman. Jaggers is the link between many of the characters in the story as he has also worked for Miss Havisham helping her adopt Estella. He is a foreboding character who even scares some of the vicious criminals he works for, however he does show a caring side towards Pip.
Herbert Pocket is the son of Miss Havisham’s Cousin, Matthew Pocket. He meets Pip at Satis House when they are both children and he is described as a pale young gentleman, at their first meeting Herbert challenges Pip to a fist fight. Years later they meet up again in London and he becomes Pip’s best friend after Pip’s elevation to the status of gentleman. Herbert hopes to become a merchant so that he can afford to marry Clara Barley.