Although Compeyson’s identity as Magwitch’s nemesis and Miss Havisham’s lost lover remains hidden until late in the novel, his presence haunts much of Pip’s life as he comes face to face with the affects of his crimes. Compeyson’s history with Magwitch begins far before Pip spots the pair brawling in the marsh’s mist. As the wealthier and more educated of the two, Compeyson uses Magwitch as a scapegoat while they commit forgeries and swindle money. The fact that Compeyson relies on his status to both manipulate a rather powerless individual and then lay the blame on him speaks to the overwhelming privilege that Victorian London granted to those with money. Compeyson’s character works to show a dark, criminal side of gentlemanhood, a possibility which young Pip cannot begin to fathom as he embarks on his journey to become a gentleman himself. Of course, Magwitch’s goal in raising Pip as a gentleman is to spite Compeyson, and although he also experiences lapses in judgement, Pip is on his way to being a vastly different kind of gentleman than his benefactor’s enemy.
While the tension between Compeyson and Magwitch works to highlight the unwarranted privileges afforded to the wealthy in Victorian London, his abuse of Miss Havisham’s trust also reveals the imbalanced gender dynamics of the era. Compeyson bands together with Miss Havisham’s half-brother to swindle her out of her large inheritance by preying on her heart. This manipulative relationship suggests that even women of status are at the mercy of the men around them, virtually powerless to resist their actions. Miss Havisham’s subsequent pursuit of revenge has no direct impact on Compeyson himself and implies that, yet again, he is immune from the consequences of his actions. Until he meets his fate and drowns in the river, Compeyson continues wield power over others because of the advantages that his identity as a wealthy gentleman bring to him. His character ultimately highlights the dangers inherent in making assumptions about an individual based on their status or where they come from, a lesson which Pip himself comes to learn along the way.