Study Guide

Great Expectations Friendship

By Charles Dickens


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Pip doesn't deserve his friends. There. We said it. Joe, Biddy, and Herbert—not to mention Magwitch—all show Pip loyalty that he not only doesn't deserve, but that he seems to actively not deserve. He patronizes, rejects, and disowns his friends, and yet they still keep coming back for more. Why? Do they see and sympathize with the scared little boy that Pip used to be, or does he have awesome character traits that we don't see? Either way, Great Expectations suggests that, even if you don't get the love of your life, friends are a pretty good substitute.

Questions About Friendship

  1. When is the word "friendship" or "friend" used and who uses these words?
  2. Does Pip value his friendships? Why or why not? Does he value different friendships differently?
  3. Who are Pip's friends? Can we tell why they're friends? What does it say about his and Herbert's friendship that it starts with a fight?
  4. How is friendship different or similar to love in this novel? What's the relationship between the two emotions?

Chew on This

In Great Expectations, friendship is a more powerful emotion than love.

Dickens suggests that true friends can see the good inside of you even when you're acting like a butthead.

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