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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
Table of Contents

BIDDY

Biddy is "the girl next door" whom Pip overlooks for Estella.
She's Pip's only friend at school. Pip knows she has always
loved him. He pays her some attention when he's an apprentice;
years later, he thinks he'll marry her to regain a quiet, contented
life. All along, he takes her for granted.

Biddy is another orphan; like Estella, she seems older than Pip.
Biddy, however, is motherly, even as a child. She brings this
much-needed warmth to the Gargery house after Mrs. Joe's
attack. Biddy has Joe's clear moral sense, but she adds spunk.
She isn't always sweet; she's brutally honest with Pip, even
when it hurts her chances with him. As she grows closer to Joe,
she becomes more critical of Pip, and has a hard time forgiving
him. Thus, even though Joe forgives Pip, Biddy's reaction
shows us how much Pip really hurt him.

As you read, compare Biddy to Mrs. Joe, Estella, and Miss
Havisham to figure out Dickens' womanly ideal. Then contrast
Biddy to Pip. If Pip had stayed at the forge, he probably would
have married her. Would he have been better off? Would she?

DRUMMLE

Pip dislikes Bentley Drummle when they are both students at
Matthew Pocket's. Drummle is rich and upper-class; this
should warn Pip not to aspire towards that class. Drummle isn't
really evil, but he has no good points. He's bulky, stupid, bad-
mannered, and humorless, in many ways the direct opposite of
Pip. Jaggers likes him, perversely, but even so he admits that
Drummle's no friend for Pip.

Why is Pip so upset by Drummle courting Estella? He says it's
more than jealousy-Drummle is such a boor, he shouldn't
touch Estella's brightness. Pip, however, is unable to separate
Estella from this base creature. Some people think Drummle is
Estella's just reward. Others think his role in the book is as a
necessary evil, to make her suffer and become human.



ORLICK

Orlick is a figure of purely irrational, unredeemable evil. We
see him mostly at night, solitary, slouching in the shadows,
drunk or sullen. At the forge with his hammer he looks like the
devil in person. He also gives an impression of great physical
power. Compare him to other "bad" characters: Pumblechook,
the convict, Compeyson, or Drummle.

Orlick attacks Mrs. Joe out of twisted spite, and attacks Pip out
of a grudge blown out of all proportion. He robs Pumblechook
out of random malice. He seems to enjoy committing these
crimes, too, drawing them out with vicious pleasure. He loves
violence and doesn't need a logical reason for it.

Yet Orlick keeps escaping and pops up in almost every subplot.
If we take Orlick as a symbol of evil, Dickens must be saying
that evil is illogical, all-present, and impossible to contain.
Table of Contents


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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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