Great Expectations

Great Expectations

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Compeyson (a.k.a. the other convict) Character Analysis

A cruel, scheming villain, Compeyson is a forger and counterfeiter who uses his educated, upper-class appearance to trick people into thinking he is more honorable and less guilty than the lower-class criminals (like Provis) whom he manipulates. Though Compeyson may possess the trappings of gentility, he is ignoble to the core.

Compeyson (a.k.a. the other convict) Quotes in Great Expectations

The Great Expectations quotes below are all either spoken by Compeyson (a.k.a. the other convict) or refer to Compeyson (a.k.a. the other convict). For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Social Class Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Great Expectations published in 2001.
Book 1, Chapter 4 Quotes

"Let him go free? Let him profit by the means I found out? Let him make a tool of me afresh and again? Once more? No, no, no. If I had died at the bottom there…I'd have held to him with that grip, that you should have been safe to find him in my hold."

Related Characters: Provis (a.k.a. Abel Magwitch) (a.k.a. the convict) (speaker), Compeyson (a.k.a. the other convict)
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

The convict Provis yells these lines at the soldiers to explain why he is wrestling with the other convict Compeyson. He wishes to prevent Compeyson from being free at any costs—even if it results in his arrest.

Provis could perhaps have escaped had he not been concerned with preventing Compeyson from doing so, yet he chooses vengeance over personal liberty. His exact reasons for doing so remain murky at this point. That Provis says, “profit by the means I found out” speaks to the way he discovered an exit from the Hulks and hints at how both convicts will “profit” economically after escaping. “Make a tool of me afresh and again” demonstrates that the two have a shared history, in which Provis has presumably been wronged before. Thus his act shows that attending to this history of wrongdoing is more important to him than forging his own future.

This passage is one of the many places in Dickens’ novel where moral justice conflicts with personal well-being. Provis has evidently opted for the former, but this sense of justice is itself muddled: a strange mixture of vengeance and ethics. When Provis cites his willingness to have “died at the bottom there” so long as Compeyson died with him, he morbidly predicts just how radically committed he will be to their equal demise. Dickens is a master of this type of foreshadowing, and it is worth paying attention throughout the text to how early abstract comments by characters take on a belated literal significance to the plot.

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Compeyson (a.k.a. the other convict) Character Timeline in Great Expectations

The timeline below shows where the character Compeyson (a.k.a. the other convict) appears in Great Expectations. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1, Chapter 3
Social Class Theme Icon
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
...direction and instead of reaching the Battery where the convict awaits him, he stumbles across another convict who swears at Pip and tries to strike him, then stumbles off into the mist.... (full context)
Book 1, Chapter 5
Justice Theme Icon
...way for runaway convicts!" and is intent on convincing the soldiers that he has turned the other convict in. He explains that, though he could have escaped on his own, he would rather... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 42
Social Class Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...committing petty crimes for survival. Twenty years ago, he met a rich, educated, gentleman named Compeyson, who was in fact a forger and counterfeiter, and was the man Pip saw Provis... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
...of an angry, broken-hearted woman all in white threatening to cover him in a shroud. Compeyson unsympathetically reminded Arthur that "she" had a "living body." Arthur died screaming at hallucinations of... (full context)
Social Class Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
When Provis and Compeyson were both eventually arrested for counterfeiting, Compeyson insisted on "separate defenses, no communication" and Provis... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
On the prison ships, Provis managed to strike Compeyson before escaping. Compeyson escaped too, thinking he was running away from Provis without realizing Provis... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
...him that Miss Havisham's brother's name was Arthur and that her devious fiancée was named Compeyson. (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 45
Integrity and Reputation Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...and Little Britain) tells Pip he wrote the note after overhearing in Newgate Prison that Compeyson knows Provis is in London and has had Pip's apartment watched. Pip connects this news... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 47
Justice Theme Icon
...show, Mr. Wopsle approaches Pip and tells him that the other convict from the marshes (Compeyson) has been sitting behind Pip's shoulder during the play. Pip is terrified, though he tries... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 50
Parents Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
Generosity Theme Icon
...with Mr. Jaggers, he hid to spare her his damning testimony about the murdered child. Compeyson had used his knowledge of the circumstances to blackmail Provis into working harder for even... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 53
Justice Theme Icon
Orlick tells Pip that he now works for Compeyson, who is going to make sure to get rid of Provis. The stranger in the... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 54
Social Class Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...leans across and pulls the cloak off the other man on board the galley—it is Compeyson. Compeyson staggers overboard, Provis falls with him, and Pip's boat overturns and sinks. Everyone but... (full context)
Book 3, Chapter 55
Ambition and Self-Improvement Theme Icon
Justice Theme Icon
...Pip for not securing Provis' fortune ahead of time from confiscation, but Pip is unconcerned. Compeyson's corpse is found on the river with notes indicating he had hoped to be rewarded... (full context)
Justice Theme Icon
...week, Wemmick visits Pip to apologize for the failure of his escape plan—he realizes that Compeyson must have planted rumors that he was out of London so that Wemmick would overhear... (full context)