Great Expectations

by: Charles Dickens

Protagonist

Main ideas Protagonist

As the protagonist of the novel, Pip is driven by a single-minded desire: to become a gentleman in order to win Estella’s heart. Pip’s intelligence and ambition inform the action of other characters such as Magwitch and Miss Havisham, who both see him as a tool to achieve their own desires. Magwitch wants to see someone achieve the social progress that has been denied to him, and Miss Havisham wants to have revenge of men because of the way she has been mistreated. Pip changes a great deal over the course of the novel, becoming self-aware and conscious of the fact that people are most often a mixture of both flaws and good intentions. When Miss Havisham has been seriously injured, he “touched her lips with mine.” On Magwitch’s deathbed, he kisses Pip’s hand. The empathy Pip eventually shows to both Miss Havisham and Magwitch, even though both of them have impeded his desires, shows that he has matured into a man capable of empathy and forgiveness.