Philip Pirrip, nicknamed Pip, an orphan and the protagonist and narrator of Great Expectations. In his childhood, Pip dreamed of becoming a blacksmith like his kind brother-in-law, Joe Gargery. At Satis House, about age 8, he meets and falls in love with Estella, and tells Biddy that he wants to become a gentleman. As a result of Magwitch’s anonymous patronage, Pip lives in London and becomes a gentleman. Pip assumes his benefactor is Miss Havisham; the discovery that his true benefactor is a convict shocks him.
Joe Gargery, Pip’s brother-in-law, and his first father figure. He is a blacksmith who is always kind to Pip and the only person with whom Pip is always honest. Joe is disappointed when Pip decides to leave his home to live in London to become a gentleman rather than be a blacksmith in business with Joe. He is a strong man who bears the shortcomings of those closest to him.
Mrs Joe Gargery, Pip’s hot-tempered adult sister, Georgiana Maria, called Mrs Joe, 20 years older than Pip. She brings him up after their parents’ death. She does the work of the household but too often loses her temper. Orlick, her husband’s journeyman, attacks her, and she is left disabled until her death.
Mr Pumblechook, Joe Gargery’s uncle, an officious bachelor and corn merchant. While not knowing how to deal with a growing boy, he tells Mrs Joe, as she is known, how noble she is to bring up Pip. As the person who first connected Pip to Miss Havisham, he claims to have been the original architect of Pip’s expectations. Pip dislikes Mr Pumblechook for his pompous, unfounded claims. When Pip stands up to him in a public place, after those expectations are dashed, Mr Pumblechook turns those listening to the conversation against Pip.
Miss Havisham and her family
Miss Havisham, a wealthy spinster who takes Pip on as a companion for herself and her adopted daughter, Estella. Havisham is a wealthy, eccentric woman who has worn her wedding dress and one shoe since the day that she was jilted at the altar by her fiancé. Her house is unchanged as well. She hates all men, and plots to wreak a twisted revenge by teaching Estella to torment and spurn men, including Pip, who loves her. Miss Havisham is later overcome with remorse for ruining both Estella’s and Pip’s chances for happiness. Shortly after confessing her plotting to Pip and begging for his forgiveness, she is badly burned when her dress accidentally catches fire. In a later chapter Pip learns from Joe that she is dead.
Estella, Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter, whom Pip pursues. She is a beautiful girl and grows more beautiful after her schooling in France. Estella represents the life of wealth and culture for which Pip strives. Since Miss Havisham ruined Estella’s ability to love, Estella cannot return Pip’s passion. She warns Pip of this repeatedly, but he will not or cannot believe her. Estella does not know that she is the daughter of Molly, Jaggers’s housekeeper, and the convict Abel Magwitch, given up for adoption to Miss Havisham after her mother was arrested for murder. In marrying Bentley Drummle, she rebels against Miss Havisham’s plan to have her break a husband’s heart, as Drummle is not interested in Estella but simply in the Havisham fortune.
Matthew Pocket, Miss Havisham’s cousin. He is the patriarch of the Pocket family, but unlike her other relatives, he is not greedy for Havisham’s wealth. Matthew Pocket tutors young gentlemen, such as Bentley Drummle, Startop, Pip and his own son Herbert.
Herbert Pocket, the son of Matthew Pocket, who was invited like Pip to visit Miss Havisham, but she did not take to him. Pip first meets Herbert as a “pale young gentleman” who challenges Pip to a fistfight at Miss Havisham’s house when both are children. He later becomes Pip’s friend, tutoring him in the “gentlemanly” arts and sharing his rooms with Pip in London.
Cousin Raymond, a relative of Miss Havisham who is only interested in her money. He is married to Camilla.
Georgiana, a relative of Miss Havisham who is only interested in her money. She is one of the many relatives who hang around Miss Havisham “like flies” for her wealth.
Sarah Pocket, the sister of Matthew Pocket, relative of Miss Havisham. She is often at Satis House. She is described as “a dry, brown corrugated old woman, with a small face that might have been made out of walnut shells, and a large mouth like a cat’s without the whiskers.”
From Pip’s youth
The Convict, who escapes from a prison ship, whom Pip treats kindly, and who in turn becomes Pip’s benefactor. His name is Abel Magwitch, but he uses the aliases “Provis” and “Mr Campbell” when he returns to England from exile in Australia. He is a lesser actor in crime with Compeyson, but gains a longer sentence in an apparent application of justice by social class.
Mr and Mrs Hubble, simple folk who think they are more important than they really are. They live in Pip’s village.
Mr Wopsle, clerk of the church in Pip’s village. He later gives up the church work and moves to London to pursue his ambition to be an actor, adopting the stage name “Mr Waldengarver.” He sees the other convict in the audience of one of his performances, attended also by Pip.
Biddy, Wopsle’s second cousin and near Pip’s age; she teaches in the evening school at her grandmother’s home in Pip’s village. Pip wants to learn more, so he asks her to teach him all she can. After helping Mrs Joe after the attack, Biddy opens her own school. A kind and intelligent but poor young woman, she is, like Pip and Estella, an orphan. She acts as Estella’s foil. Orlick was attracted to her, but she did not want his attentions. Pip ignores her affections for him as he pursues Estella. Recovering from his own illness after the failed attempt to get Magwitch out of England, Pip returns to claim Biddy as his bride, arriving in the village just after she marries Joe Gargery. Biddy and Joe later have two children, one named after Pip. In the ending to the novel discarded by Dickens but revived by students of the novel’s development, Estella mistakes the boy as Pip’s child.
Mr Jaggers and his circle
Mr Jaggers, prominent London lawyer who represents the interests of diverse clients, both criminal and civil. He represents Pip’s benefactor and Miss Havisham as well. By the end of the story, his law practice links many of the characters.
John Wemmick, Jaggers’ clerk, who is Pip’s chief go-between with Jaggers and looks after Pip in London. Wemmick lives with his father, “The Aged Parent”, in a small replica of a castle, complete with a drawbridge and moat, in Walworth.
Molly, Mr Jaggers’ maidservant whom Jaggers saved from the gallows for murder. She is revealed to be Magwitch’s estranged wife and Estella’s mother.
Compeyson (surname), a convict who escapes the prison ship after Magwitch, who beats him up ashore. He is Magwitch’s enemy. A professional swindler, he was engaged to marry Miss Havisham, but he was in league with Arthur Havisham to defraud Miss Havisham of part of her fortune. Later he sets up Magwitch to take the fall for another swindle. He works with the police when he learns Abel Magwitch is in London, fearing Magwitch after their first escapes years earlier. When the police boat encounters the one carrying Magwitch, the two grapple, and Compeyson drowns in the Thames.
Arthur Havisham, younger half brother of Miss Havisham, who plots with Compeyson to swindle her.
Dolge Orlick, journeyman blacksmith at Joe Gargery’s forge. Strong, rude and sullen, he is as churlish as Joe is gentle and kind. He ends up in a fistfight with Joe over Mrs Gargery’s taunting, and Joe easily defeats him. This sets in motion an escalating chain of events that leads him secretly to assault Mrs Gargery and to try to kill her brother Pip. The police ultimately arrest him for housebreaking.
Bentley Drummle, a coarse, unintelligent young man from a wealthy noble family. Pip meets him at Mr Pocket’s house, as Drummle is also to be trained in gentlemanly skills. Drummle is hostile to Pip and everyone else. He is a rival for Estella’s attentions and eventually marries her and is said to abuse her. He dies from an accident following his mistreatment of a horse.
Clara Barley, a very poor girl living with her gout-ridden father. She marries Herbert Pocket near the novel’s end. She dislikes Pip at first because of his spendthrift ways. After she marries Herbert, they invite Pip to live with them.
Miss Skiffins occasionally visits Wemmick’s house and wears green gloves. She changes those green gloves for white ones when she marries Wemmick.
Startop, like Bentley Drummle, is Pip’s fellow student, but unlike Drummle, he is kind. He assists Pip and Herbert in their efforts to help Magwitch escape.