The novel, The Great Expectation by Charles Dickens is a fictional book that has a number of characters. The characters in this novel can be classified under either major or minor characters. The minor characters, just like the major characters, also play a role in the advancement of the plot of the novel. Some of the minor characters are:
Jaggers is a well renowned and popular lawyer who lets Pip (the main character) know about the fortune that awaits in London. Jaggers later on in the plot, becomes Pips guardian but it is not clear if this decision is influenced by the fortune that Pip is set to inherit.(Dickens 18) Jaggers is a criminal lawyer who has been dealing with a lot of convicts but he decides to do away with his profession so that he can maintain his moral standards. Most of the decisions made by Jaggers are based on facts and truths. By the final chapter of the novel, Jaggers is portrayed as a soft hearted man as he seems to truly care for Pip. Jaggers advances the moral plot of the novel. He is also a secret keeper as he is the only one who knows the source of Pips wealth.
Mrs. Joe is Pips elder sister and she is married to Joe Gargery. She has raised Pip as her own son and is portrayed as strict and overbearing in her parenting skills. Pip says, I supposed that both Joe Gargery and I were brought up by hand (Dickens 8). Being brought up by hand means being beaten. Mrs. Joe raised Pip in a very stern way and she is an unpleasant character in the novel. Mrs. Joe suffers a blow to head from a mysterious intruder. Mrs. Joe is clobbered with an iron shackle on her head and consequently suffers from a mental condition. She is mentally crippled and thus bed ridden. This mentally illness causes Mrs. Joe to have a turn around in her incapacitation. She becomes kind though she later dies while Pip is in London.
Uncle Pumblechook- He is Pips sycophantic uncle who sends him to live with Miss Havisham and Estella, her adopted daughter. Uncle Pumblechook send Pip to live with Miss Havisham because she is a wealthy woman. (Dickens 21)Uncle Pumblechook is obsessed with social class and how he is viewed by the society. Uncle Pumblechook is unkind to Pip because he is poor. Later on, when Pip becomes rich, Uncle Pumblechook starts being kind and he even claims that he is the sole reason that Pip is now wealthy.
Dolge Orlick is the gruff character who is also Pips journeyman and works as a blacksmith for Joe. He is also attracted to Biddy. (Dickens 34)Biddy does not share the same attraction towards Orlick. Orlick resents Pip because he feels that Pip is treated in a better manner as compared to himself. He is jealous of other people and he hurts others just to get satisfaction from seeing other people in pain. While working at Satis house, Pip gets Orlick fired. Orlicks significance in the novel is quite complex. He is portrayed as a second version of Pip. He is also, like Pip, a young boy who is working in a farm. Orlick does not like the fact that Pip is now wealthy. His anger towards Pip shows the difference between these two characters who were almost similar in the beginning of the novel.
Biddy is a young girl who comes into play in order to help Mrs Joe when she suffered from her incapacitation. She is of the same social status as Pip. Orlick who is Joes blacksmith is sexual interested in her but Biddy does not feel any affection towards him. She is portrayed as a sweet and intelligent character who teaches Pip most of the things that she had learnt while in school. Biddy is interested in Pip, but Pip is in love with Estella. Pip wishes that he could feel the same affection for Biddy instead of Estella. Biddy brings joy to Pip.
Mathew Pocket- he is related to Miss Havisham. Unlike all of her other relatives, Mathew does not hover around her in need for her wealth. When Miss Havisham dies, she leaves all of her fortune to Mathew. Miss Havisham felt that Mathew cared for her genuinely because he had warned her against her fiance who stood her up at their wedding. Mathew is kind and loving. He tutors Pip and that is his main role in the novel.(Dickens 67)
The Hubbles are a couple, a husband and wife who come for dinner at Mr Joes house. (Dickens 81)They come over for dinner over Christmas and the novel portrays them as silly characters. They are only present at the beginning of the novel and they do not appear elsewhere as the plot advances.
Sarah Pocket is Mathew Pockets sister and she is related to Miss Havisham. She always hovers around Miss Havisham because she wants to inherit her fortune once she dies. She does not care for Miss Havisham at all. She depicts pertinent issues in the society where people often hover around a sickly and near death relative hoping that they will get a share of large estates and other fortunes upon death of the owner.
Mr Wopsle is very fond of his voice. He is one of the friends of Pips family. When Pip is living in London, Mr Wopsle visits him and takes up acting.(Dickens 104) His theatrics come to a dreadful halt as things do not turn out as he expects. Initially, Mr Wopsle was a church clerk back at home before he moved to London. He depicts persons in the society who move away from home in search of greener pastures but end up regretting. His character attests to the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side.
Arthur Havisham is Miss Havishams step brother. He is an ally to Compeyson. Compeyson was Miss Havishams fiance who stood her up at the altar. (Dickens 71)Arthur and Compeyson were working together towards cheating Miss Havisham off her wealth. Again, this is a pertinent issue in the society today. Relatives may gang up to cheat off people of their wealth.
All these minor characters are used to advance the plot of the novel. They all depict some pertinent issues in the society.
1) Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Ed. R. D. McMaster. New York: Gage, 1980. Print.
2) Jones, Radhika. Introduction and Notes. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Barnes & Noble Classics, 1 Apr. 2003. Web. 18 July 2003.
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