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Great Expectations

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

Herbert Pocket

Character Analysis

Herbert and Pip are BFFs, and, like most BFFs, they start out by fighting: Herbert challenges Pip to a gentlemanly fight (there are rules and everything), which Pip easily wins. Even then, Pip notices that he's a "gentleman," and that's pretty much what you need to know about Herbert—he's passionate and excitable (all that fighting), but he's a genuinely nice, decent guy.

He's also got big dreams about being a capitalist. He explains his philosophy to Pip: "Then the time comes […] when you see your opening. And you go in, and you swoop upon it and you make your capital, and then there you are! When you have once made your capital, you have nothing to do but employ it" (22.90). At first, Pip patronizes Herbert a little—he appreciates the lessons in gentlemanliness, but he also thinks his friend is never going to be "very successful or rich" (22.72).

Pip is almost right. Herbert may not strike it rich, but he gets something better: a nice wife, a good friend, and a satisfying career that succeeds because of his "cheerful industry and readiness" (58.64). At the end, Pip realizes that he never really appreciated his friend—that the "inaptitude" he thought he saw in Herbert was really more about Pip himself (58.64).

It's a little late, but we'll take it.

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