We kick things right off with … a lecture about our narrator's name.
His first name is Philip, and his last name is Pirrip. Philip Pirrip. When we try to say that name ten times fast, we end up saying "filapeera," and we have multiple advanced degrees.
Our narrator is only six years old, so he calls himself "Pip." Fine by us. This is a 500-page novel, so the shorter the better.
Pip is an orphan who lives in the marsh country along the riverThames, twenty miles from the sea to be exact. He lives with his meanie sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, and her blacksmith husband, Joe Gargery.
Pip can't remember his parents, so he likes to chill in the cemetery with their gravestones and decide what they were like based on their inscriptions.
Dum dee dum. We continue to hang out with Pip in the cemetery in the late afternoon, chilling with the family graves when, suddenly, a scary-looking someone jumps out of a hiding place and grabs Pip by the throat.
Stranger-Danger tells Pip to be quiet or else. Then he demands that Pip bring him some wittles (a.k.a. vittles; a.k.a. victuals, a.k.a. food) and a file (a sharp metal instrument, not something you save on your computer). Then he shakes Pip a little, turns him upside down, tells him he'll cut out his heart and liver if he doesn't obey, and disappears into the marshes.
Pip is thoroughly freaked out.
Great Expectations Chapter 2 Summary
Pip's sister is more than twenty years older than him, and she's ugly. She's famous in the neighborhood for having raised Pip "by hand."
This phrase can just mean that he was bottle-fed (or, more liketea-cup fed!), but also means that she chose not to leave him out on the street and instead adopted and raised him herself. It probably also has something to do wit her being a fan of corporal punishment.
Pip's brother-in-law, Joe Gargery, is pretty much Pip's best friend in the whole wide world. He has big blue eyes and is really, really nice.
Joe is a blacksmith and his smithy is attached to the Gargery house. Even six-year-old Pip can't figure out why a man as gentle and sweet as Joe would ever marry a woman as mean and hard as his sister.
Anyway, Pip gets back from being hanged upside down by a terrifying escaped convict, only to find that his sister has been out looking for him, that she's furious he's been gone so long, and that she plans to use the Tickler on him.
No matter what you're thinking, the Tickler isn't some fun Fisher-Price toy. It's a wax-ended cane that she likes to beat him with.
At dinner, Pip secretly stuffs his buttered bread down his pants, which sounds awfully greasy to us. They think he's gulped it whole, and his sister threatens to make him drink tar water to make him digest better.
Guns fire in the distance, which is standard operating procedure anytime a prisoner escapes from the convict ships that hang out in this part of England.
Understandably, this doesn't make Pip feel any better.
Oh, by the way, it's Christmas Eve, and Pip has to stir theChristmas pudding for a long, long time, which means he doesn't have an opportunity to pilfer more food for his convict.
After a long night of no sleep, he gets up at the crack of dawn and steals a delicious pork-pie, brandy, some bread, mincemeat, and a meat bone. Grabbing a file from Joe's smithy, he runs off into the marshes.
There's a lot of marsh-running in this novel.
Great Expectations Chapter 3 Summary
It's a wet, foggy day. But then again, it is marshland, and it isEngland. Mediterranean climate, this is not.
Pip feels so guilty that he even imagines the cows are judging him.
The convict is sleeping, so Pip just kind of whispers and pokes him gently.
BUT IT'S NOT THE CONVICT! It's a younger man who Pip assumes to be the bloodthirsty sidekick the convict tried to scare him with, but he must not be thirsty this morning because he just runs away, despite the iron chain around his leg.
Pip continues in search of his very own convict. Eureka! His convict looks pretty beat up, but really appreciates the food.
Is the convict is going to share any of the food with the sidekick?
The convict is shaken when he realizes that Pip saw someone else on the marshes, and he runs off, madly trying to free himself of his iron with the file.
Whew. Glad that's over.
Great Expectations Chapter 4 Summary
Double whew, because no one suspects Pip has been up to no good when he returns home.
Everyone's getting ready for Christmas dinner with Mr. Wopsle (the clerk at church), Mr. Hubble (the wheelwright), Mrs. Hubble (the wheelwright's wife), and Mr. Pumblechook (Joe's uncle).
It's a nerve-wracking dinner. What will Mr. Pumblechook do when he tastes the watered-down brandy or when his sister discovers that the pork-pie is gone? (Hopefully celebrate, because pork-pie doesn't sound appetizing.)
Pip is too busy worry about what the Tickler will do to him to eat much.
Mr. Pumblechook tries the brandy, only to launch into a coughing fit. Pip accidentally filled the brandy bottle with tar water to make it seem like nothing had been stolen.
Everyone is totally confused as to how tar water could have possibly found its way into the bottle.
When Pip's sister goes to get the famous pork-pie, the crowning Christmas delight, Pip can't take it anymore. He bolts for the door in the hopes of escaping the Tickler's wrath ....
… and he runs right into a party of soldiers at the Gargery doorstep.
reat Expectations Chapter 5 Summary
False alarm! The soldiers just want Joe to fix their handcuffs, and everyone totally forgets about the pork-pie. Pip escapes his sister's wrath.
The soldiers invite Joe and Pip to come convict-hunting with them. Fun! Pip climbs on Joe's back and the party heads into the marshy Christmas night to find the escapees.
Suddenly, Pip is feeling a little worried about his convict. Sure, the convict was scary and all, but he was Pip's convict, and he doesn't want anyone messing with his very own convict.
The men find two convicts fighting gladiator-style. Pip's convict is pulverizing the younger convict he had seen earlier that day.
The younger convict tries to convince the soldiers that Pip's convict is intent on killing him, but Pip's convict retorts that he only wants to deliver him to the authorities and to make sure he doesn't escape his well-deserved fate.
Pip's convict recognizes Pip, but doesn't say a word about this.
In fact, he tells the authorities that he had himself stolen one pork-pie from the local smithy, thus acquitting Pip of any Tickler-inducing crime.
The two convicts are taken away, supposedly to the giant convict ships that loom in the horizon, on the marshes.
Great Expectations Chapter 6 Summary
Pip feels really guilty now. Not about stealing the food per se, but about not telling his best friend in the world, Joe Gargery, about what he had done.
He decides it will be best never to tell Joe the full story, because he doesn't want this hero of his to ever doubt his six-year-old integrity.
The action over, Joe carries Pip home.
There's still Christmas dinner to be had, but Pip is tuckered out.
Joe relates the whole story, pilfered pork-pie and all.
Everyone spends some time trying to figure out how the convict could have gotten in to steal the pie, until Mrs. Gargery finally yanks Pip up the stairs and sends him to bed.
It's a short chapter.
Great Expectations Chapter 7 Summary
Pip goes to school for an hour every day at Mr. Wopsle's great aunt's house. It's not exactly a rigorous education. Mr. Wopsle's great aunt sleeps through lessons, and then sometimes Mr. Wopsle performs Shakespeare and poetry for the students, with bloody sword and all.
At school, Pip encounters Biddy, Mr. Wopsle's great aunt's granddaughter. Biddy is an orphan, just like him.
She's a bit unkempt, but man can she run a store. She basically manages Mr. Wopsle's great aunt's grocery store, which happens to be in the schoolroom.
One night, Pip is practicing his writing with Joe, and he writes a letter to Joe. Despite the fact that it's functionally illiterate, Joe thinks this is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread.
Oh, turns out Joe isn't much for reading and writing. Here's why:
Joe explains that his father was an alcoholic and beat his mother often. Sometimes he and his mom would run away from his father, but his father always found them and always was convincingly penitent, only to relapse into a state of perpetual drunkenness.
Joe was forced to work as a little boy to support his dad's drinking habit, and, thus, never had time for school. In spite of this rough childhood, Joe loves both his father and his mother and was with them until their deaths.
This ends Joe's story.
After seeing his mother suffer so much, Joe tells Pip he tries to do anything Mrs. Gargery wants and to provide her with anything she needs. He's sorry he can't control her temper or her love of the Tickler, but he sure does love Pip.
Joe tells the story of how he insisted on adopting Pip, and Pip starts to cry. So do we.
It's super cold outside, and Joe is starting to worry about his wife, who is out visiting Mr. Pumblechook,
Suddenly, she arrives proclaiming that Miss Havisham, the Donald Trump of the marshes, has requested that Pip serve as a playmate to her daughter.
Pip has to spend the night at Mr. Pumblechook's that very night and will be taken to Miss Havisham's in the morning.
Pip is confused. But before he can be too confused, his sister pounces upon him and subjects him to serious deep cleaning and scrubbing before she sends him off into the freezing cold night air. Pip is sad. He's never left Joe before.
Great Expectations Chapter 8 Summary
Pip spends the night at Mr. Pumblechook's in the attic, where the ceiling is like two inches from his eyebrows. Mr. Pumblechook is a seedsman, meaning he sells lots of seedy stuff. He also wears corduroys. A lot of corduroy goes on in the seed store.
In the morning, Mr. Pumblechook pours Pip milk with water in it and bread with only a teensy amount of butter.
To top it off, Mr. Pumblechook quizzes Pip on his multiplication tables while munching on the equivalent of an Egg McMuffin with bacon.
Mr. Pumblechook and Pip walk over to Miss Havisham's. It's a big, dismal mansion with lots of bars, gates, and boarded up windows. There's a vacant brewery too. They ring the bell and wait for someone to unlock the gate.
That someone arrives and is kind of cold and snippy. She's a young girl, and she doesn't let Mr. Pumblechook inside.
She tells Pip that the house has two names: the manor house and Satis House. "Satis" means "enough" in either Greek, Hebrew, or Latin—she's not quite sure.
(Too bad she didn't have Shmoop to tell her that it's Latin.)
Anyway, the little girl tells Pip that, when it was first built, the builders thought that whoever owned the house could want nothing more in life.
The little girl is Pip's age, but she calls Pip, "boy."
She's also really pretty. This is important.
They walk into the dark house, and the girl heads him down a series of cold, dark passages.
She tells him to go inside a closed door, and inside he sees a dressing table and the whole room, though dimly lit, looks like a lady's dressing room.
Someone's in there.
It's the weirdest lady he's ever seen in his life. She's old and she's wearing beautiful clothes. Well, they would be beautiful, if they weren't so old that they were yellowy-brown.
Uh, it's also a wedding dress, which is SO CREEPY.
The lady only has one shoe on, and there's a tattered veil in her hair. There are jewels and gloves and lace on her dressing table, and half-packed trunks of dresses are lying around everywhere.
The lady herself is pretty freaky looking, too, kind of a cross between a skeleton and a mummy. She's got deep sunken eyes, and her hair is all white.
Pip realizes that all of the clocks in the room are stopped at exactly twenty minutes to nine.
Seriously, if we were Pip we'd be so out of there right now.
Instead, Pip stays. Miss Havisham (that's her name) tells Pip that she has a broken heart and then commands him to play.
Uh, how does one play on command? That violates the laws of playing. It's like anti-play.
Pip, showing good sense, feels the same way, and he's frozen in his tracks.
Miss Havisham asks Pip to call for Estella (which we guess is the little girl's name). He does, but he's not happy about it.
Well, how would you feel if you were forced to yell a name like "Estella" into a dark, cold, empty mansion with a creepy, half-dead lady watching you?
Miss Havisham makes Pip and Estella play cards, and Estella rolls her eyes about having to play with a "common" boy.
They play the age-old classic, Beggar My Neighbor, and Estella kicks Pip's butt.
She also kicks his little heart around a little, making fun of him for calling "knaves," "jacks"; and making fun of his coarse hands and thick boots.
Pip doesn't know what to do with himself. He's never doubted his hands, boots, or jacks before. What is going on? Aren't mid-life crises supposed to happen in the middle of life?
Miss Havisham asks Pip what he thinks of Estella, and he tells her that he thinks she's proud, insulting, and pretty. You know, just your average pre-pubescent heartbreaker.
Oh, also he'd like to go home. NOW.
Miss Havisham tells Pip to come back in six days, and she orders Estella to give him some food.
They walk down the pitch-black passages again, and Pip is weirded out by the sunshine outside. He thought for sure it would be dark out there too, you know, like when you go see a movie in the middle of a sunny day and then walk outside.
Estella brings him beer, bread, and meat and leaves it on the porch for him as though she were feeding a dog.
Naturally, Pip starts to cry, which totally pleases Estella, and then she leaves him outside. Pip has to kick a wall a little bit and twist his hair in order to get his tears and emotions out.
He's never felt so degraded ever, and—instead of dismissing Estella as a stuck-up little brat—he wishes he had nicer clothes and softer hands.
But then he drinks some beer and eats some meat, and he feels better.
He starts to look around the "garden" and it's in need of an Extreme Makeover. Everything is dead and withered. (We're thinking that's symbolic.)
He explores the brewery, too. The weird thing is that everywhere he goes, Estella is there too, but just ahead of him. It's like she's following him, but leading him at the same time. She climbs a ladder/stair in the brewery, and it looks like she's climbing into the sky.
Then, suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Pip sees something hanging from a rafter at the other end of the brewery. He looks closer, and the thing is a figure of a woman all in white, and the face is of Miss Havisham. Logically, he runs toward the hanging figure.
(Shmoop interlude: Do not try this at home. Shmoop endorses the "if you see a white humanlike figure hanging from a rafter, turn and run" policy).
But there's nothing there at all. Spooky!
Finally, Estella leads him to the gate and then gets in another jab at him for crying (because she was apparently spying on him) before pushing him out onto the street and locking the door behind him. Charming.
All the way home, Pip thinks about his coarse hands and his thick boots.
Great Expectations Chapter 9 Summary
The next day, Pip's sister wants to know ALL the juicy details about Miss Havisham and Satis House, but Pip doesn't want to tell her.
For one, he doesn't think that anyone would believe his account of the old lady in an old wedding dress, and he also doesn't really want to subject Mrs. Havisham to any public criticism or mockery. For some reason.
When Mrs. Joe realizes she's not going to get the goods out of Pip, she pushes his forehead against the wall.
Then, Mr. Pumblechook comes over for tea, and, after unsuccessfully getting Pip to recite multiplication tables, he asks Pip for the gossip on Miss Havisham.
So Pip lies.
He lies that Miss Havisham lives in a black, velvet carriage that sits in her mansion. He lies that he ate cake and wine on gold plates in the carriage. He lies there were huge dogs eating veal-cutlets in silver baskets.
And he lies they played with flags. In his story, he, Estella, and Miss Havisham each had different colored flags, and they waved them around out the windows of the coach—which sounds like some bizarre piece of performance art.
At that point his well of lies is running dry and he's about to tell them that there was a bear in the cellar or a hot air balloon in the back yard, but the inquisition is over for the moment.
Later on, in the forge, Pip confesses to Joe that he made everything up because he's so bummed out about being "common."
He wants to be uncommon, see.
Joe shows a little folk-wisdom by telling Pip that he won't ever become uncommon if he keeps lying.
He also tells Pip that no one can become uncommon without being common first. Everyone puts their pants on one leg at a time, he says.
Pip goes to bed thinking about all the differences between Joe's house and Miss Havisham's house, and how so much had changed that day.
Narrator Pip (that would be the grown up Pip who's telling us this story) interjects to ask us to think about moments in our lives that change our path or direction forever.
Great Expectations Chapter 10 Summary
Pip gets the notion in his head that he needs some schooling in order to become uncommon.
The only problem is that Pip's narcoleptic school teacher, Mr. Wopsle's great aunt, can't teach a thing to anybody, because she's too busy sleeping in her room/grocery store/schoolhouse.
Fortunately, Biddy comes to the rescue. Biddy not only agrees to teach Pip everything she knows about reading, writing, and arithmetic, but she also takes on the task of teaching all the children in town.
One night after school, Pip stops at the Three Jolly Bargeman pub to collect Joe. He finds Joe, Mr. Wopsle, and a strange man next to the roaring fire, drinking rum and smoking pipes.
The strange man looks at Pip through squinty eyes and seems to recognize him. Creepy.
Pip decides to sit next to Joe, even though El Weirdo summons him to sit with him.
This mystery man is very curious about Pip and about how Pip is related to Joe.
Mr. Wopsle is tanked and reciting lines from Shakespeare's play,Richard III.
The mystery man keeps rubbing his leg, and, suddenly, he pulls out a file and starts stirring his drink with it. Pip's little heart is atwitter, because he recognizes that file to be the very same file he stole out of Joe's smithy to give to the escaped convict.
The mystery man watches Pip the whole time knowingly.
As the men get up to leave, the mystery man gives Pip some change wrapped in a piece of paper. Pip is stoked about the money, but still freaked out about Mr. International Man of Mystery.
When he unwraps the paper at home, he realizes that the paper is actually money itself—a lot of money.
Joe runs back to the pub to return it, but the mystery man is gone, so Mrs. Joe stuffs the money in a tea pot to keep it safe.
Pip has wild dreams all night long.
Great Expectations Chapter 11 Summary
It's Miss Havisham day!
Pip arrives at the gate, and again Estella disdainfully lets him in and guides him down the dark passages.
Today, however, he waits in a different room with three ladies and gentleman. These are Miss Havisham's relatives, and they're all just sick with worry about her. They talk dismissively of a one "Matthew Pocket."
When they finally notice Pip, they look at him like he were a piece of moldy meat.
We're pretty sure we don't like these people.
Estella takes Pip up to Miss Havisham's room. He says he doesn't feel like playing, but he's totally down to work.
Miss Havisham takes Pip across the hall to another big room. There's a long table with some kind of blob sticking out of the middle of it. Little speckled spiders are running every which way, but mostly into the blob, like there's a spider convention going on inside the blob.
There are slower moving beetles chilling by the fireplace, and Pip can hear mice running behind the walls.
So, Dickens has basically just described Shmoop's worst nightmare.
Miss Havisham tells Pip that this is her wedding feast, and that the blob is her bride-cake. Ew. When she dies, she wants to be laid on that very same table where her beyond-rotting wedding feast lies.
Miss Havisham grabs hold of Pip's shoulder and tells him to walk, and so he walks her around and around the room.
Pretty soon, Estella and the relatives come traipsing into the room, but Miss Havisham is so not interested in them, even though they spend a lot of time telling her how they're all worried about her (and how dumb they think some guy named Matthew Pocket is).
Miss Havisham has had about enough of this, and she bangs her cane on the ground and insists that Matthew Pocket will stand at the head of the table. This shuts the visitors up, and they all head out.
Apparently, it's Miss Havisham's birthday, and they visit her every year on her birthday.
Estella comes back into the room after having escorted the guests out, and the three of them stand in silence as Miss Havisham imagines her dead body on the table.
After some more card-playing, Pip is wandering through the garden and greenhouse looking at all of the deformed, overgrown vegetables when he sees another (totally random) little boy studying. The little boy is very pale and has red eye-lids.
After playing twenty questions, the little boy asks Pip to fight. Pip, not wanting to be rude, accepts.
The boys find a little protected nook, and the little boy brings over a sponge and bucket of water and vinegar. Pip is a little worried he's gotten in over his head, especially when the little boy starts fancy footing around, balling up his fists and going over the rules.
As you can guess, it's not much of a fight. Pip basically knocks the kid out in ten seconds, but it's all very friendly.
When Pip heads out, Estella appears out of nowhere, and she's kind of flushed. She tells Pip that he can kiss her on the cheek, and he immediately accepts.
It is really dark when Pip finally arrives home, and he can see the glow of Joe's forge fire reflected on the marshes.