Pip is the narrator of the story, which begins when he is aged seven.
He is an orphan living with his sister and her husband who is the local blacksmith. Their home is set in the marshes of Kent.
One evening while visiting his parents’ graves, an escaped convict, who
orders him at the peril of his life to obtain food and a file for his leg irons, grabs Pip. Pip obeys and the convict is soon captured, but he protects Pip by claiming to have stolen the items himself.
Miss Havisham, who lives in a grand house outside Pip’s village, is a
wealthy woman, who was jilted on her wedding day and her home has not changed since that date.
The dining room table is still prepared for the wedding feast. Pip is asked to visit the house and play with Miss Havisham’s adopted daughter, Estella. Estella is a very beautiful young girl and she captivates Pip. She treats him coldly and harshly, and Pip dreams of becoming worthy enough of her, and he is determined to obtain some sort of education.
Some years later Pip is sponsored by Miss Havisham to become apprentice to
his brother-in-law, Joe. Pip feels this is a type of imprisonment and he can see no way of obtaining his dreams.
One day a lawyer named Jaggers, who also represents Miss Havisham, meets Pip
and Joe to advise them that Pip has a secret benefactor, and that he is now a man of great expectations. Pip naturally assumes that the benefactor is Miss Havisham, and that he is being groomed to marry Estella.
He is sent to London to become a young gentleman, and he resides with
Herbert Pocket with whom he becomes a great friend. Now that he is to be a gentleman, he turns his back on Joe and his roots.
After several years, Estella still treats Pip harshly, even though he is now
a man of means and he wonders if he will ever win her hand.
One stormy night, a convict called Magwitch barges into Pip’s room,
announcing that he is Pip’s benefactor. It is the same convict that Pip helped as a boy.
The convict has dedicated his life to making Pip a gentleman, using the fortune he has accumulated in Australia. Magwitch is ‘a lifer’, and if he is caught in England, he will be executed.
Pip and his friend Herbert arrange for Magwitch to escape to the continent,
the plan being that Pip will accompany him.
Magwitch’s former partner in crime was a man called Compeyson, who had been
a gentleman and had jilted Miss Havisham. Estella is Magwitch’s daughter and she has been raised by Miss Havisham to break men’s hearts in revenge for the pain she has suffered.
Pip’s character was not likeable when he was rich, being a snob and
Now that his source of income will cease, his character starts to change for the good. He now cares for Magwitch and is concerned that the authorities will capture him. With the assistance of others including Jaggers’ clerk, Wemmick, an elaborate plan is arranged to smuggle Magwitch out of England.
Estella marries a lout named Bentley Drummle, which annoys Pip
greatly. He realizes that he cannot win her, but wishes she would marry for her own happiness.
Miss Havisham repents over her evil behavior and begs for Pip’s forgiveness.
Later she bends over the fire and her wedding dress catches alight. She is badly injured.
Pip and Herbert row down the river with Magwitch to rendezvous with a
steamboat bound for France. Customs Officers and Compeyson discover them. The two convicts struggle and Compeyson is drowned.
Magwitch later dies in prison, knowing that he has a daughter who is a lady and Pip loves her. He dies in peace.
Pip is reconciled with Joe and then spends some time abroad working with his
Some years later he returns to find out that Drummle treated Estella badly
and that he is now dead.
The story ends with the Pip and Estella hand in hand in the garden of Satis
House where they first met as children.