The story begins in a village near the marshes where a young boy named Pip lives. Because his parents are dead, he lives with his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery and her husband Joe whos a blacksmith and Pips trusted friend. Pip doesnt have much of a future, hes destined to become Joes apprentice and eventually a blacksmith. Then, Pip meets a convict out on the marshes. It seems like nothing important, despite it being frightening, but this meeting will change his life forever.
The convict asks him to bring some food. Pip, fearing for his life, steals some food from his house, brings them to the convict and doesnt see him again.
Later, a stranger will show up in the Three Jolly Bargemen. Hell scare Pip a little because he reminds him of the convict. Pip thinks he might be in danger, but instead, the stranger gives him two one-pound notes. At that time, not much connection is shown between the notes and the convict on the marshes, but later discoveries indicate that it was the convict that had sent the man with the notes.
Suddenly, theres a twist of fate. Pips invited to play at Miss Havishams. Miss Havisham is a wealthy old lady who lives uptown in a large, gloomy house. Next to the house is an old, decrepit brewery and a garden overrun with weeds, both remnants of better times. The interior of the house isnt much looked after either. The drapes are closed as to block as much sunlight as possible; the only light inside is that of candles, and cobwebs decorate the furniture.
Miss Havisham turns out to be an elderly woman in an old bridal dress that was once white, but has now faded to pale yellow. Most objects in the house were once white actually, but had also faded. And a remarkable fact was that all the clocks were stopped exactly at 8.40 A.M. Pip later finds out that Miss Havisham was abandoned by her fianc at the altar at that time and straight after that, she had all the clocks stopped.
Miss Havisham was heartbroken and turned into a bitter, cold woman. She stayed indoors, stopping the clocks and leaving everything the way it was on the day she was to be married. She stayed in the darkness, not seeing any sun or anything outside her mansion called Satis House. Satis stood for enough. As if to imply that any who resides in the house wont need anything else.
Miss Havisham had adopted Estella, a young girl, and raised her in her own way, teaching her to be cruel to men and break their hearts, to make them feel the pain she had once felt herself. She used Estella as exhaust-pipe for all her blocked anger , frustration and pain. Estella became her weapon of revenge. Revenge against mankind.
Estella was actually a caring person, but was taught not to be and as all children do, obeyed the orders given to her and took on the attitude that she was taught to have.
Pip creates a serious infatuation for Estella from the moment he meets her and is dazzled by her beauty. Estella is very proud and looks down on him, making remarks such as : He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy! And what coarse hands he has and what thick boots! (chapter 8, page 58).
Pip starts thinking very lowly of himself and of the way he has been raised. He yearns to be less common. At one point, Miss Havisham actually says to Estella: Well! You can break his heart! (chapter 8, page 57), blatantly indicating what her plans for Pip are. Pip now wants nothing else but to be a gentleman and to be noticed by Estella. Also at Miss Havishams, he meets a young boy with who he has a fight, theyll meet again later in different circumstances.
I think Pip has a very odd point of view about women now. Hes met so many harsh women, he must think at his young age, that most women are like that. First, there is his sister, Mrs. Joe, who raised him by hand and constantly reminds him of it and who treats him and Joe in a very unpleasant way. Then theres Estella, who looks down on him and Miss Havisham, who confuses him and even tells Estella to break his heart. Only Biddy, who is actually in love with Pip, seems to be a nice, young lady.
A few months later, while hes already apprenticed to Joe he hears the great news from a man named Mr. Jaggers.
He is to have Great Expectations. Everyone is in an uproar about this and Pip is certain that his benefactor for these Great Expectations is Miss Havisham. Pip moves to London and meets Mr.Jaggers, who takes care of him, but is also the mastermind behind Pips meeting with Estella and Estellas adoption by Miss Havisham.
Jaggers assistant, Wemmicks, becomes a friend of Pip and helps him with a lot of things.
I feel that Pip now knows the ways of the world, living in a big, crowded city which is so different from his hometown, he finds out how much more there is besides the forge, the marshes and the Three Jolly Bargemen.
He also meets Herbert Pocket, who turns out to be the young boy he fought with at Miss Havishams. They become good friends and roommates.
When Pip is a bit older, now a real gentleman, the convict he met on the marshes all those years ago, returns. His real name is Magwitch and he tells Pip that hes the benefactor for Pips Great Expectations. Pip is abhorred. Inside, he wanted Miss Havisham to be his benefactress and now that hes discovered that its actually Magwitch, he cant imagine such a poor, dirty, old man to be his benefactor, the person to whom he owes so much. He wants to get rid of Magwitch as soon as possible. However, slowly but surely he develops a real affection for the man. Magwitch (Provis) also tells Pip about Compeyson, another convict, who made Miss Havisham the way she is today
Pip tries to help Magwitch escape by sea, aided by his friend Herbert. Unfortunately, they fail and Magwitch is severely injured, so much so, that he dies from the injuries. Before the attempt of escape, Pip finds out that Magwitch is Estellas real father, even though Magwitch believes his daughter to be dead, and Jaggers housekeeper (Molly) to be the mother.
Just before Magwitch dies, Pip tells him about Estella and his feelings for her, showed by his quote saying : You had a child once, whom you loved and lost. She lived and found powerful friends. She is living now. She is a lady and very beautiful. And I love her! (Chapter 56, page 451).
After Mrs. Joe died, Joe marries Biddy and when Pip returns to see him, they realize they are really the best of friends, shown by this quote from Pip : We have had a time together, Joe, that I can never forget. There were days once, I know, that I did for a while forget; but I never shall forget these. (chapter 57, page 462).
Pip meets Bentley Drummle in London, a real gentleman of high standing, yet an idiot who tries to prove himself to everyone and especially Jaggers, which works, since Jaggers takes a liking to him. Bentley starts chasing Estella and in the end, he marries her. Pip is furious and cant believe Estella even considered marrying Bentley. The down side to the story is that Bentley abuses Estella and is very cruel to her. This humanizes her and part of her own identity is exposed. Ironically enough, Bentley is later killed by a horse which he was abusing.
Miss Havisham finally realized what she has done to herself and to others. She realizes all the things she did wrong and falls into a depression. The fact that Estella does not love her, upsets her even more. She sets herself on fire and Pip saves her, since he was at Satis House at the time and both suffer wounds. Miss Havisham is really stressing the fact that she needs Pip to love Estella. I think she wants them both to be happy.
Miss Havisham doesnt recover though and passes away. Nearly everything of Pips childhood fades away. A whole new world opens its gate to him. He returns to his town and to Satis House, which is not there anymore. There, he finds Estella, now a widow, and changed into her real self and together they walk away, to a future.