Orlick appears again and again throughout the course of Great Expectations, lurking in the background of Pip’s rise to and fall from wealth while representing the physical realization of Pip’s darkest qualities. Among the novel’s cast of villains, Orlick stands out for the long duration of his close proximity to Pip. The pair’s knowledge of each other extends back to early in Pip’s childhood, and Orlick continues to keep an eye on him and his family until Herbert thwarts his attempt at murder. This closeness gives the reader the opportunity to track their development side by side and see the initial similarities between Pip’s internalized resentment and Orlick’s external acts of revenge. Orlick has a number of experiences that parallel Pip’s, including his employment at the forge, his tense relationship with Mrs. Joe, his interest in Biddy, and his brief engagement at Stasis House. While Pip struggles internally with the implications and effects of these relationships, Orlick responds in an outward and often violent manner. His attack on Mrs. Joe, for example, represents the physical removal of a threat that Pip could only fantasize about overcoming.
The ultimate display of Orlick’s search for revenge occurs when he lures Pip out to the marshes with the intent to murder him. By this point, Pip has begun to work through his resentment and is loyal to Magwitch, a shift which puts him at odds with his still-vindictive attacker. Orlick violently ties Pip up, explains that Pip has been in his way since he was a young child, and vows to kill him. In the end, Orlick hunts Pip down much like Compeyson hunts Magwitch, a connection which suggests that this kind of predatory behavior transcends social class divisions. This episode also offers yet another example of the extreme lengths to which an individual will go out of an unquenchable desire for influence or control.