Great Expectations is the thirteenth novel by Charles Dickens and his penultimate completed novel. It depicts the education of an orphan nicknamed Pip the book is a bildungsroman, a coming-of-age story. It is Dickens' second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person. The novel was first published as a serial in Dickens' weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, Chapman and Hall published the novel in three volumes.

Pip is an orphan, about seven years old, who lives with his hot-tempered older sister and her kindly blacksmith husband Joe Gargery on the coastal marshes of Kent. On Christmas Eve 1812, Pip is visiting the graves of his parents and siblings. There, he unexpectedly encounters an escaped convict who threatens him with death if he does not bring back food and tools. Terrified, Pip steals a file from among Joe's tools and a pie and brandy that were meant for Christmas dinner, which he delivers to the convict.

That evening, Pip's sister is about to look for the missing pie when soldiers arrive and ask Joe to mend some shackles. Joe and Pip accompany them into the marshes to recapture the convict, who is fighting with another escaped convict. The first convict confesses to stealing food, clearing Pip.

A few years pass. Miss Havisham, a wealthy and reclusive spinster, asks Mr Pumblechook, a relation of the Gargerys, to find a boy to visit her. She was jilted at the altar and still wears her old wedding dress and lives in dilapidated Satis House. Pip visits Miss Havisham and falls in love with Estella, her adopted daughter. Estella is aloof and hostile to Pip, which Miss Havisham encourages. During one visit, another boy picks a fistfight with Pip, who easily gains the upper hand. Estella watches, and allows Pip to kiss her afterwards. Pip visits Miss Havisham regularly, until he is old enough to learn a trade.