Short summary - Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

British literature summaries -

Short summary - Great Expectations
Charles Dickens

In the vicinity of Rochester, an old town southeast of London, there lived a seven-year-old boy, nicknamed Peep. He was left without parents, and his "own hands" was brought up by an older sister, who "had a rare ability to turn cleanliness into something more uncomfortable and unpleasant than any dirt." She treated Pip as if he had been «taken under the supervision of a police obstetrician and handed over to her with the suggestion that she act with the full force of the law.» Her husband was the blacksmith Joe Gargeri - a fair-haired giant, docile and rustic, only he, as he could, defended Pip.

This amazing story told by Pip himself began that day when he ran into a cemetery with a runaway convict. He, on pain of death, demanded to bring "grub and filings" to free himself from shackles. How much effort the boy secretly collected and passed the bundle! Each floorboard seemed to scream after: «Hold the thief!» But it was even harder not to give himself away.

As soon as they stopped talking about the prisoners, as in a tavern some stranger quietly showed him a file and gave two pound tickets (of course, from whom and for what).

Time passed. Pip began to visit a strange house in which life froze on the day of the hostess's failed wedding, Miss Havisham. She grew old, not seeing the light, sitting in a decayed wedding dress. The boy was supposed to entertain the lady, play cards with her and her young pupil, the beautiful Estella. Miss Havisham chose Estella as a tool of revenge for all men for the one who deceived her and did not appear at the wedding. «Break their hearts, my pride and hope,» she repeated, «break them without pity!» Pip became the first victim of Estella. Before meeting her, he loved the craft of a blacksmith and believed that "the blacksmith's shop is a sparkling path to an independent life." Having received twenty-five guineas from Miss Havisham, he gave them for the right to go to the apprentice to Joe and was happy, and a year later he shuddered at the thought that Estella would find him black from hard work and despise. How many times he fancied her waving curls and an arrogant look outside the forge window! But Pip was a blacksmith's apprentice, and Estella was a young lady who should be educated abroad. Upon learning of Estella's departure, he went to the shopkeeper Pumblechook to listen to the heartbreaking tragedy of George Barnuel. Could he have suggested that a genuine tragedy awaits him on the threshold of his own home!

Around the house and in the courtyard crowded the people; Pip saw his sister, struck by a terrible blow to the back of the head, and shackles with a sawn ring lay nearby. The constables tried unsuccessfully to find out whose hand had struck. Pip suspected Orlik, a worker who helped in the forge, and a stranger who showed files.

Mrs. Joe struggled to recover, and she needed care. Therefore, Biddy appeared in the house, a pretty girl with kind eyes. She ran a farm and kept up with Pip, using every opportunity to learn something. They often spoke heart to heart, and Pip admitted to her that he wanted to change his life. «Do you want to become a gentleman, to annoy that beauty that lived with Miss Havisham, or to get her,» Biddy guessed. Indeed, the memories of those days «like an armor-piercing projectile» broke the good intentions of joining Joe, marrying Biddy and leading an honest working life.

Once in the tavern «At three cheerful sailors» a tall gentleman appeared with a contemptuous expression on his face. Pip recognized him as one of Miss Havisham's guests. It was Jagger, a solicitor from London. He announced that he had an important assignment to cousin Joe Gargeri: Pip would have to inherit a pretty good fortune on the condition that he would immediately leave these places, abandon his previous studies and become a promising young man. In addition, he should keep the surname Pip and not try to find out who his benefactor is. Pip's heart beat faster, he could hardly utter words of agreement. He thought that Miss Havisham decided to make him rich and unite with Estella. Jegger said that Pip received the amount that is enough for education and metropolitan life. As a future guardian, he advised turning to Mr. Matthew Pocket for guidance.

Having become rich, Pip ordered a fashionable suit, hat, gloves and was completely transformed. In a new guise, he paid a visit to his good fairy who made (he thought) this wonderful transformation. She gladly accepted the grateful words of the boy.

The day of parting has come. Leaving the village, Pip burst into tears at the road post: «Goodbye, my good friend!», And in the stagecoach he thought how good it would be to return under his native shelter ... But - it's too late. The time of first hopes has ended ...

In London, Pip got comfortable surprisingly easily. He rented an apartment with Herbert Pocket, the son of his mentor, and took lessons from him. Entering the Finches in the Grove club, he recklessly flogged with money, imitating new friends in an effort to spend as much as possible. His favorite pastime was compiling a list of debts «from Cobs, Lobs, or Nobs.» That's when Pip feels like a top-notch financier! Herbert trusts his business skills; he himself only "looks around", hoping to catch luck in the City. Pip, whirling in the whirlpool of London's life, is overtaken by the news of his sister's death.

Finally, Pip came of age. Now he will have to dispose of his property himself, to part with his guardian, in the sharp mind and great authority of which he has more than once become convinced; they even sang in the streets: «Oh Jaggers, Jeggers, Jeggers, the most necessary humane!» On his birthday, Pip received five hundred pounds and a promise of the same amount every year for expenses «as a guarantee of hope». The first thing Pip wants to do is to contribute half of his annual maintenance so that Herbert gets the opportunity to work in a small company, and then becomes its co-owner. For Pip himself, hopes for future accomplishments justify inaction.

Once, when Pip was alone in his home - Herbert left for Marseille - suddenly steps were heard on the stairs. A mighty gray-haired man came in, he did not need to get files or other evidence from his pocket - Pip instantly recognized that very fugitive convict! The old man warmly thanked Pip for the act committed sixteen years ago. During the conversation it turned out that the source of Pip's success was the fugitive's money: «Yes, Pip, my dear boy, I made you a gentleman!» As if a bright flash illuminated everything around - so many disappointments, humiliations, dangers suddenly surrounded Pip. So Miss Havisham’s intention to raise him to Estella is simply a figment of his imagination! This means that the blacksmith Joe was abandoned for the sake of the quirk of this man who risks being hanged for illegally returning to England from an eternal settlement ...

After the appearance of Abel Magwich (that was the name of his benefactor), Pip, anxious, began to prepare for departure abroad. The disgust and horror experienced at the first moment gave way in Pip's soul to a growing appreciation for this man. Magwich was sheltered in the house of Clara, Herbert's bride. From there, on the Thames, you could quietly swim to the mouth and catch a foreign ship. Magwich’s tales revealed that Compeson, the second convict caught in the swamps, was the same dirty trickster, Miss Havish’s fiancé, and he is still harassing Magwich. In addition, according to various hints, Pip guessed that Magwich was Estella’s father, and her mother was the housekeeper of Jagger, who was suspected of murder but acquitted by the efforts of a lawyer, and then Jagger took the baby to the rich lonely Miss Havish. Do I need to say that Pip vowed to keep this secret for the good of the beloved Estella, despite the fact that by this moment she was already married to the traitor Druml. Thinking about all this, Pip went to Miss Havisham to get a large sum of money for Herbert. Leaving, he looked around - the wedding dress on her flashed like a torch! Pip desperate, burning his hands, extinguished the fire. Miss Havisham remained alive, but, alas, not for long ...


On the eve of the upcoming flight, Pip received a strange letter inviting him to a house in the swamp. He could not have imagined that Orlik, who had a grudge, became Compeson's assistant and lured Pip to avenge him - to kill and burn him in a huge furnace. Death seemed inevitable, but Herbert's faithful friend arrived in time for a cry. Now on the road! At first, everything was going well, only the ship itself had a chase, and Magwich was captured and convicted. He died of wounds in a prison hospital before he was executed, and his last minutes were warmed by Pip's gratitude and the story of the fate of his daughter, who became a noble lady.

Eleven years have passed. Pip works in the eastern branch of the company with Herbert, finding peace and care in his friend's family. And here he is again in his native village, where he is met by Joe and Biddy, their son, named Pip, and the baby daughter. But Pip hoped to see the one that he never stopped dreaming about. Rumor had it that she had buried her husband ... Unknown force leads Pip to an abandoned house. A female figure appeared in the fog. This is Estella! «Is it not strange that this house connected us again,» Pip said, took her hand, and they walked away from the gloomy ruins. The fog cleared. "Wide open spaces spread out before them, not clouded by the shadow of a new separation."