In Charles Dickens’ coming of age epic, Great Expectations, Pip, a young orphan who lives with his sister and her husband in a small English village, has a chance meeting with an escaped convict who asks him for food and a file to get rid of the chains that bind him. Pip obeys, completely unaware that this particular event in his life, will change it forever.
A few months later, a wealthy old dowager, Mrs. Havisham, invites Pip to play at her house, Ms. Havisham is an eccentric woman, given to wearing an old wedding dress all the time and keeping all the clocks in her house stopped at the exact same time. He meets a girl, Estella, who is more or less his age, and who is being raised by the old woman. This is another event that will end up having great repercussions in Pips life. He falls in love with the little girl at first sight. But Estela is too proud and conceited, and rejects him because he is poor and ignorant. This makes PIP very sad. So he seeks the aid of a friend, Biddy, who is unlike him, literate. Afterwards Pip makes regular visits to the Havisham house with his brother-in-law Joe, the village blacksmith.
Then begins a sad stage in Pip’s life, his sister becomes disabled because of a vicious attack. She is left unable to speak but from her signals, Pip suspects Orlick, a day laborer that works with his brother in law Joe.
A solution to all of Pip’s problems then miraculously appears in the form of a man from Ms. Havisham’s circle, an attorney named Jaggers, who informs Pip that an anonymous source has bequeathed him a large amount of money. Pip is immediately whisked away to London to begin his education as a gentleman. He is given proper clothes and lives in London with a rich family.
Several years pass, until one night, a ghost from the past bursts into the scene again. The convict, Magwitch, stuns Pip announcing that he, and not miss Havisham is his secret benefactor. He goes onto say that he was so moved by Pip’s kindness as a child that he devoted the rest of his life to make sure Pip could become a proper gentleman, making a fortune in Australia to that end.
PIP feels a moral obligation to help Magwitch escape to London, as the convict is now being chased by the police and by Compeyson, Magwitch’s former partner in crime. A great mystery begins to unravel as Pip discovers that Compeyson left the Miss Havisham at the altar (hence her proclivity for consistently wearing a wedding dress, and having all the clocks stopped at the same time). To top it off, apparently Estella is Magwitch`s daughter, whom Miss Havisham has trained to break the hearts of all men, as a form of revenge for her own heartbreak and suffering. Thus, Pip figures that he was only invited to meet Estella, for her to practice her dexterity at playing with his feelings.
Weeks go by and Pip gets to see the good side of Magwitch. He begins to care for him profoundly. It comes time to for Pip to help Magwitch get away from London. During the escape attempt, Magwitch and Compeyson fight in the river. Compeyson is drowned. Magwitch is caught and sentenced to death, and Pip loses his fortune.
Many years later Pip and Estella are reunited in the ruined garden of the old Satis House. She had married, but her husband (who mistreated her) is now dead. The pair leave the garden holding hands with Pip feeling confident they will never be apart again.