Study Guide

Great Expectations Chapter 1

By Charles Dickens

Chapter 1

  • We kick things right off with … a lecture about our narrator's name.
  • His first name is Philip, and his last name is Pirrip. Philip Pirrip. When we try to say that name ten times fast, we end up saying "filapeera," and we have multiple advanced degrees.
  • Our narrator is only six years old, so he calls himself "Pip." Fine by us. This is a 500-page novel, so the shorter the better.
  • Pip is an orphan who lives in the marsh country along the river Thames, twenty miles from the sea to be exact. He lives with his meanie sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, and her blacksmith husband, Joe Gargery.
  • Pip can't remember his parents, so he likes to chill in the cemetery with their gravestones and decide what they were like based on their inscriptions.
  • Dum dee dum. We continue to hang out with Pip in the cemetery in the late afternoon, chilling with the family graves when, suddenly, a scary-looking someone jumps out of a hiding place and grabs Pip by the throat.

  • Stranger Danger tells Pip to be quiet or else. Then he demands that Pip bring him some wittles (a.k.a. vittles; a.k.a. victuals, a.k.a. food) and a file (a sharp metal instrument, not something you save on your computer). Then he shakes Pip a little, turns him upside down, tells him he'll cut out his heart and liver if he doesn't obey, and disappears into the marshes.
  • Pip is thoroughly freaked out.