Pip (Great Expectations)

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Philip Pirrip
Great Expectations character
Pip and Joe on the marshes.jpeg
Pip and Joe sitting on the marshes, by John McLenan
Created by Charles Dickens
Portrayed by Jack Pickford (1917)
Phillips Holmes (1934)
John Mills (1946)
Dinsdale Landen (1959)
Gary Bond (1967)
Simon Gipps-Kent (1974)
Michael York (1974)
Gerry Sundquist (1981)
Todd Boyce (1986)
Anthony Calf (1989)
Ethan Hawke (1998)
Ioan Gruffudd (1999)
Douglas Booth (2011)
Jeremy Irvine (2012)[1]
Nickname(s) Pip
Gender Male
Family Mrs Joe (older sister)
Relatives Joe Gargery (brother-in-law)

Philip Pirrip, called Pip, is the protagonist and narrator in Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations (1861). He is amongst the most popular characters in English literature, widely portrayed all over the world on stage and screen.

Pip narrates his story many years after the events of the novel take place. The novel follows Pip's process from childhood innocence to experience. The financial and social rise of the protagonist is accompanied by an emotional and moral deterioration, which finally forces Pip to recognize his negative expectations in a new self-awareness.[2]


When the novel begins in the early 1800s, Philip is a seven-year-old orphan raised by his cruel sister, Mrs. Joe, who beats him regularly, and her husband Joe Gargery, a blacksmith and Pip's best friend. He lives in the marsh area of Kent, England, twenty miles from the sea.[3]

Pip never saw either of his parents; he's more than twenty years younger than his sister and older than his five dead brothers: Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias and Roger. It's not known how he looks, as the book is written from a first person perspective, other than the fact that he is small and not strong. He's known to himself and to the world as Pip because his "infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip".[2]

Although seemingly destined for a career as a blacksmith like his brother-in-law, an unexpected chain of events thrusts him into a completely different life. During the novel Pip goes through many changes in his personality, as he is influenced by various people. He starts out very kind and does not care at all about what class he is in. Once he meets a beautiful, though spiteful, girl named Estella who is of the upper class, Pip falls in love with her despite her mean attitude toward him, and becomes ashamed of his family due to their economic standing in society and longs to join the upper class, although he does suffer guilt for his ungrateful feelings toward Joe, who had been a kind friend to him.[4]

When a mysterious benefactor enables him to escape the lower class, Pip travels to London as a teenager to become a gentleman. He believes that his patron is Miss Havisham, Estella's adopted mother, who wants to make him desirable for her daughter. Initially Pip is full with expectations and totally convinced that he is meant to marry Estella. He spends a lot of money and still embarrassed of his poor relations replaces Joe as a guardian with Mr. Jaggers, a lawyer. However, he does not entirely lose his original qualities, which are expressed mainly in his relationship with his friend Herbert.

Soon Pip’s new life becomes much more complicated than he imagined it would be. The revelation of the mysterious benefactor, an uneducated prison inmate, whom he had helped early in the novel, deflates his hopes that he is meant for Estella and turns his social perceptions inside out. Despite his disgust and disappointment, the sense of duty that compels Pip to help the convict is a mark of his inner goodness, just as it was many years ago when Pip first met him at the beginning of the novel. Finally, after Abel Magwitch, the convict, dies and the Crown confiscates his fortune, Pip, aged 23,[5] understands that good clothes, well-spoken English and a generous allowance do not make one a gentleman. He goes to find his old friends Biddy and Joe. After reconciling, he joins Herbert, who has married and become successful, although secretly due to Pip. Years later, he meets Estella again, who has lost her physical beauty but changed into a sweeter person. After they reconcile, they hold hands, later going their separate ways.[6]


  1. ^ "Great Expectations". IMDb. Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  2. ^ a b "Analysis of Major Characters". sparknotes. Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  3. ^ "Pip Pirrip Character Analysis". exampleessays. Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  4. ^ Moccia (2010-04-19). "Pip's continual change". Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  5. ^ "Great Expectations Stage I-III". Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  6. ^ "Great Expectation Summary". shmoop. Retrieved 2012-12-09.