Literary Mixtape: Great Expectations’ Pip


If you’ve ever wondered what your favorite literary characters might be listening to while they save the world/contemplate existence/get into trouble, or hallucinated a soundtrack to go along with your favorite novels, well, us too. But wonder no more! Here, we sneak a look at the hypothetical iPods of some of literature’s most interesting characters. What would be on the personal playlists of Holden Caulfield or Elizabeth Bennett, Huck Finn or Harry Potter, Tintin or Humbert Humbert? Something revealing, we bet. Or at least something danceable. Read on for a cozy reading soundtrack, character study, or yet another way to emulate your favorite literary hero. This week: Pip, Dickens’ classic social climbing orphan.

Perhaps more than anything else, Philip Pirrip, better known to all as Pip, is a romantic idealist. He falls in love with the deliberately cold-hearted Estella, and though she tells him time and time again that she cannot love him in return, he cannot believe it and continues to pursue her, believing they will one day be married. Having grown up an orphan, he also has a deep longing for self improvement, and spends much of the sprawling novel trying to become a “gentleman,” though he has several fits of bad behavior in society over his love and jealousy. Once he receives his mysterious fortune, he becomes a lazy rich kid, and only once he finds that they money was given to him by the disreputable Magwich instead of the outwardly proper Miss Havisham does he realize the artificiality of the social hierarchy. Here’s what we think Pip would pine, preen, and suffer to.

“Such Great Heights” — Iron & Wine

An even more idealistic cover of an already hyper-idealistic love song. We imagine Pip falling asleep to this track, dreaming of a better future…

“F*ck You” — Cee-Lo Green

It’s a pretty good bet that anybody who’s lost a girl to a richer man has this song on his radar. “Oops, she’s a gold digger!”

“Rebellion (Lies)” — Arcade Fire

The Arcade Fire is good for social climbers. Everyone respects an Arcade Fire fan. Except maybe those Twitter people, but there’s even lower on the social ladder than Pip, so who cares?

“Heartless” — Kanye West

This is like the perfect anthem of Pip’s relationship with Estella. Is Kanye a Dickens fan? We like to think so.

“I’m Your Man” — Leonard Cohen

Not only is this one of the sexiest songs ever – something we think Pip needed a good dose of every once in a while – but it’s about being so in love with your lady that you’ll turn yourself into whatever you think she wants. Whether she wants it or not, well, that’s a whole other story.

“Evaporated” — Ben Folds Five

All the sad young (literary) men love Ben Folds. This song manages to be both despairing and calmly reflective, perhaps for some morning towards the end of the novel, when Pip wakes up hungover from his whole life.

“In Our Talons” — Bowerbirds

We think something about Bowerbirds would appeal to Pip – their songs seem almost sinister on the surface, but at heart they’re singing about really good-hearted stuff like keeping the earth clean.

“I Just Don’t Think I’ll Ever Get Over You” — Colin Hay

He’s just a sucker for Estella. Stop crying in your bedroom to this song, Pip. She’s mean to you.

“Dog on Wheels” — Belle & Sebastian

This may be a song for Pip the narrator as opposed to Pip the character, but it’s a bitter, stuck in the friend zone forever song that we think will stand the test of ages. With a horn section.

“Can’t Keep No Good Boy Down” — The Parlor Mob

Starting-your-life-over music if we’ve ever heard it. Make a new life for yourself, Pip, and dress it in shouty bluegrass.