Great Expectations Timeline

Instructor: Laura Foist

Laura has a Masters of Science in Food Science and Human Nutrition and has taught college Science.

In this lesson we will explore the timeline of ''Great Expectations.~' We will look at the important things that happen in the story. We will also see how these important events line up with Pip's age and the chapters in the book.

General Timeline of Great Expectations

Great Expectations covers a long period of time (nearly 30 years). There are some instances where a single day may cover several chapters and others where years go by in a single sentence.

Each chapter tells a specific story and the happenings in Pip's daily life. As the story progresses we learn that each of these daily occurrences end up being important in Pip's life. They seem to be unimportant aspects such as things that he and his friend Herbert do together or his meeting specific friends such as Wemmick; however, they are instrumental in developing Pip's character and contributing to the larger theme of the story.

  • The General timeline is as follows:
    • Pip meets the convict and steals food to give to him
    • The convict is captured and he protects Pip
    • Pip is sent to go play with Estella at Miss Havisham's house
    • Pip falls in love with Estella
    • Miss Havisham pays for Pip to become Joe's apprentice
    • Mrs. Joe is injured, has brain damage
    • Estella is sent away to school
    • Biddy helps take care of Mrs. Joe and Pip and Biddy become close friends
    • A mysterious benefactor is to make Pip a gentleman, Pip assumes it is Miss Havisham
    • Pip goes to London and becomes friends with Herbert Pocket
    • Pip is educated and starts to become a gentleman
    • Miss Havisham asks Pip to come for a visit; he sees Estella again and is still in love with her
    • Pip comes of age, 21 years old, and receives his fortune, 500 pounds per year
    • The convict, Magwitch, comes back into Pip's life and Pip learns that he is the mysterious benefactor
    • Magwitch stays at Pip's house
    • Pip confronts Miss Havisham for deceiving him and he learns that Estella is dating Drummle
    • Magwitch is in danger of being caught and is moved to Clara's house, Pip begins to care about Magwitch
    • Pip pieces information together and learns that Estella is Magwitch's daughter who he assumed died as a child
    • Pip, Herbert, and Wemmick plan an escape for Magwitch
    • Before the escape Pip receives a mysterious note
    • Pip meets up with Orlick in the marshes, Orlick tries to kill him, Herbert saves him
    • They attempt to help Magwitch escape and he is captured
    • Pip stands by Magwitch through his trial, he is found guilty and Pip loses his 'great expectations'
    • Pip becomes ill and Joe comes to nurse him back to health
    • Pip goes home and apologizes to Joe and Biddy (who just got married)
    • Pip goes to work with Herbert in the East
    • (alternate ending) Pip returns home and runs into Estella, it is left ambiguous if they end up together or not, but they are friends

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