The plot of Great Expectations revolves around Pip as a young boy and his chance encounter on the Kent marshes with an escaped convict, Magwitch. It follows Pip's journey through to adulthood and gives insight into the attitudes about the social conditions and snobbery at the time when Dickens was writing and what his views of them were.

It is a compelling novel of guilt, desire, ambition, greed and reconciliation and finally realising the true value of money, friendship and love.

When Pip and Magwitch first meet, their relationship appears to be based solely on power and fear. Upon seeing the convict Pip describes him as a fearful man' and during their short conversation, Pip sits trembling' - showing his fear.

The man threatens the boy so that he can get what he wants and Pip seemingly obliges only to save his life. The convict manhandles him and repeatedly threatens him. .

However, when they split up Pip keeps his gaze on him and the reader gets the impression that they are strikingly similar - the image of the man still hugging himself in both arms' alone on the horizon, and also lonely - not that different to the young boy Pip, who just minutes before he'd met the convict had been sat alone, looking longingly at his relatives gravestones. They share a common loneliness and both seem somewhat removed from society. .

Pip comes across as a sympathetic, kind boy. His home life was rather unsettled as a young boy but his older sister Mrs Joe and her husband Joe take him in and become his guardians. Pip finds solace from his sisters' rages in Joe and their relationship is more of that of dear friends than as surrogate father and son. Pip is reasonably happy with his life, he knew no different and was unable to compare his situation until he is called upon to visit Miss Havisham. .

After spending a while living in London, Pip is happily settled in, still longing for Estella but enjoying spending time with his good friend Herbert, until his emotions are thrown into turmoil when his benefactor appears before him.