John Wemmick

Last updated
John Wemmick
Great Expectations character
"This chap murdered his master.".jpeg
Wemmick shows the death mask of an executed murderer to Pip in Jaggers's office, by John McLenan
Created by Charles Dickens
In-universe information

John Wemmick is a fictional character in Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations . He is Mr Jaggers's clerk and the protagonist Pip's friend. [1] Some scholars consider him to be the "most modern man in the book". [2] [3] Additionally, Wemmick is noted as one of Dickens's "most successful" split characters, insofar as Wemmick's character represents an exploration of the "relationship between public and private spheres in a divided existence". [4]



John Wemmick is a bill collector for the lawyer Mr. Jaggers. The job requires a demanding, uncaring attitude, a personality the working Wemmick takes on. To impress and stay in the favour of his boss, Mr. Jaggers, he berates Jaggers's clients with disdain. He is described as having "the same air of knowing something to everybody else's disadvantage, as his master had". [4] His professional attitude contrasts with Wemmick's more outwardly pleasant home and personal life. Jaggers is a self centered man who does not seem to pay Wemmick well. When Pip tries to buy a boat he makes fun of him, calling the young boy poor.

Portable property

Wemmick often ventures to Newgate Prison to speak with prisoners currently being represented by Jaggers, or already condemned to die after Jaggers's appointment to them. When Wemmick talks to a prisoner that has been condemned to die, he does his best to take whatever valuable artifacts they may have with them off their hands. This he calls their "portable property". Wemmick does this out of a sense of necessity, given his financially challenged status. [5]

Relation with Pip

At one point in the novel, Wemmick advises Pip to acquire his benefactor Magwitch's "portable property". He argues that despite Pip's noble intentions to help Magwitch, the pragmatic course of action would be to prepare for failure. In acquiring Magwitch's "portable property," Pip would at least be guaranteed his money. After he sends back Magwitch's pocketbook, Pip feels glad despite Wemmick's advice. In the end, Pip forfeits all that Magwitch intended for him to have.

Personal life

Mr. Wemmick and "The Aged P.", illustration by Sol Eytinge Jr. The Aged P., by Sol Eytinge, Jr..jpg
Mr. Wemmick and "The Aged P.", illustration by Sol Eytinge Jr.

Wemmick owns a house in Walworth which is modeled as a castle, complete with a drawbridge, cannon, and moat. Wemmick feels protected from the harsh realities of his profession by his house. As Wemmick tells Pip, "the office is one thing, and private life is another. When I go into the office, I leave the Castle behind me." He lives with his father, who is referred to as "The Aged Parent", "The Aged P.", or simply "The Aged", a deaf man. Wemmick's ingenuity is seen in ways to communicate with his father, as when he returns from work a tile appears reading "John", signaling his father to lower the drawbridge. Every evening at 9 PM Wemmick fires a cannon known as "The Stinger", which is the only object the Aged Parent has the ability to hear.

He is engaged to marry Miss Skiffins, a source of joy in his life. His behavior with Miss Skiffins is another indication of Wemmick's split character status. In his personal life Wemmick, for the first time, also reveals a "sexuality which Dickens comically depicts in his relationship with the brightly apparelled but wooden Miss Skiffins." Pip approves of Wemmick's behavior around Miss Skiffins, insofar as it humanizes him. This is contrasted with Pip's observation of Wemmick's behavior in the presence of Jaggers, which he compares to his behavior around Miss Skiffins by saying "there were twin Wemmicks and this was the wrong one." [6]

Related Research Articles

<i>Great Expectations</i> 1861 novel by Charles Dickens

Great Expectations is the thirteenth novel by Charles Dickens and his penultimate completed novel. It depicts the education of an orphan nicknamed Pip. It is Dickens's second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person. The novel was first published as a serial in Dickens's weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, Chapman and Hall published the novel in three volumes.

Miss Havisham Fictional character in Charles Dickens Great Expectations

Miss Havisham is a character in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations (1861). She is a wealthy spinster, once jilted at the altar, who insists on wearing her wedding dress for the rest of her life. She lives in a ruined mansion with her adopted daughter, Estella. Dickens describes her as looking like "the witch of the place".

Estella (<i>Great Expectations</i>) Dickens novel character

Estella Havisham is a significant character in the Charles Dickens novel Great Expectations.

<i>Great Expectations</i> (1946 film) 1946 film by David Lean

Great Expectations is a 1946 British drama film directed by David Lean, based on the 1861 novel by Charles Dickens and starring John Mills and Valerie Hobson. The supporting cast included Bernard Miles, Francis L. Sullivan, Anthony Wager, Jean Simmons, Finlay Currie, Martita Hunt and Alec Guinness. John Bryan and Wilfred Shingleton won the Best Art Direction, Black-and-White, while Guy Green won for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White. Lean was nominated for Best Director, Lean, Ronald Neame and Anthony Havelock-Allan for Best Screenplay and the film for Best Picture.

Abel Magwitch

Abel Magwitch is a major fictional character from Charles Dickens' 1861 novel Great Expectations.

<i>Jack Maggs</i>

Jack Maggs (1997) is a novel by Australian novelist Peter Carey.

Great Expectations is a British-American television serial based on Charles Dickens' 1861 novel of the same title. The serial was first broadcast in the US in three parts on The Disney Channel in 1989, and in the UK in six parts on the ITV network in 1991.

<i>Great Expectations</i> (1934 film) 1934 film by Stuart Walker

Great Expectations is a 1934 adaptation of the 1861 Charles Dickens novel of the same name. Filmed with mostly American actors, it was the first sound version of the novel and was produced in Hollywood by Universal Studios and directed by Stuart Walker. It stars Phillips Holmes as Pip, Jane Wyatt as Estella and Florence Reed as Miss Havisham.

<i>Great Expectations</i> (1974 film) 1974 US/UK drama film by Joseph Hardy

Great Expectations is a 1974 film made for television based on the Charles Dickens 1861 novel of the same name. It was directed by Joseph Hardy, with screenwriter Sherman Yellen and music by Maurice Jarre, starring Michael York as Pip, Simon Gipps-Kent as Young Pip and Sarah Miles as Estella. The production, for Transcontinental Films and ITC, was made for US television and released to cinemas in the UK. It broke with tradition by having the same actress play both the younger and older Estella. The film was shot by Freddie Young. It was filmed in Eastmancolor and it was entered into the 9th Moscow International Film Festival in 1975.

<i>Great Expectations</i> (1999 film)

Great Expectations is a 1999 television film adaptation of Charles Dickens’s 1861 novel of the same name. It was aired on BBC Two in the UK, and on Masterpiece Theatre in the US.

<i>Great Expectations</i> (1917 film) 1917 silent drama film

Great Expectations is a lost 1917 silent drama film directed by Robert G. Vignola and Paul West, based on the 1861 novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Jack Pickford stars as Pip and Louise Huff as Estella.

<i>Great Expectations</i> (1981 TV series)

Great Expectations is a 1981 BBC drama serial based on the 1861 novel by Charles Dickens. It was directed by Julian Amyes and adapted by James Andrew Hall.


Compeyson is the main antagonist of Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations, whose criminal activities harmed two people, who in turn shaped much of protagonist Pip's life.

<i>Great Expectations</i> (2011 TV series) 2011 TV serial directed by Brian Kirk

Great Expectations is a three-part BBC television drama adaptation by Sarah Phelps of the Charles Dickens’s 1861 novel of the same name, starring Ray Winstone as Magwitch, Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham, Douglas Booth as Pip, Vanessa Kirby as Estella and David Suchet as Jaggers. The adaptation was first broadcast on British television over the Christmas period in 2011.

<i>Great Expectations</i> (2012 film) 2012 British film

Great Expectations is a 2012 British-American film adaptation of Charles Dickens' 1861 novel of the same name. The film was directed by Mike Newell, with the adapted screenplay by David Nicholls, and stars Jeremy Irvine, Helena Bonham Carter, Holliday Grainger, Ralph Fiennes and Robbie Coltrane. It was distributed by Lionsgate.

Pip (<i>Great Expectations</i>)

Philip Pirrip, called Pip, is the protagonist and narrator in Charles Dickens's novel Great Expectations (1861). He is amongst the most popular characters in English literature. Pip narrates his story many years after the events of the novel take place. The novel follows Pip's process from childhood innocence to adulthood. The financial and social rise of the protagonist is accompanied by an emotional and moral deterioration, which forces Pip to recognize his negative expectations in a new self-awareness.

<i>Dickensian</i> (TV series) British drama television series

Dickensian is a British drama television series that premiered on BBC One from 26 December 2015 to 21 February 2016. The 20-part series, created and co-written by Tony Jordan, brings characters from many Charles Dickens novels together in one Victorian London neighbourhood, as Inspector Bucket investigates the murder of Ebenezer Scrooge's partner Jacob Marley.

In Charles Dickens' novel Great Expectations, Arthur Havisham is Miss Havisham's younger, rebellious half-brother who was a result of Mr Havisham's affair with the cook after Mrs Havisham died. He and Compeyson plot against her and swindle her to gain more money, despite the fact that Mr Havisham had left Arthur plenty. Arthur was jealous that Mr Havisham favoured his sister and was extravagantly greedy with his money. He is a subordinate character in Great Expectations, working with Compeyson. Towards the end of his life he suffered from paranoia; a constant haunting by his sister's supposed presence around him. He dies of an illness caused by the guilt of how he had treated his sister. Through his death Dickens provided a kind of poetic justice in the novel.

<i>Great Expectations</i> (1967 TV series)

Great Expectations is a British television series which first aired on the BBC 1 in 1967. It is an adaptation of the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, which follows a humble orphan suddenly becoming a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.


  1. "Great Expectations Character List". SparkNotes. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  2. "Great Expectations: The Tragic Comedy of John Wemmick". University of Calgary Press. Archived from the original on 6 July 2011. Retrieved 16 April 2010.
  3. Pickrel, Paul. Great Expectations.
  4. 1 2 Lecker, Barbara. SEL: Studies in English Literature 1500–1900. Rice University.
  5. "Great Expectations: Character Analysis: Jaggers and Wemmick". CliffsNotes. Archived from the original on 29 March 2010. Retrieved 17 April 2010.
  6. Lecker, Barbara. The Split Characters of Charles Dickens. Rice University.