Great Expectations, conceived as a comic extravaganza, is the grimmest novel by Charles Dickens. The central idea of the story is that man?s basic personality is shaped in youth and can never change. The talents and weaknesses we are born with live with us throughout our existence. Surface illusions of class and caste are untrustworthy, for the real thing is the man behind the outer trappings. First appeared in All the Year Round (1860-61), Great Expectations is the story of Pip, a village boy, brought up by his violent tempered sister, the wife of the naturally gracious blacksmith Joe Gargery. He is introduced to Satis House, the residence of Miss Havisham, a sadistic lady who was deserted by her lover on the wedding day. In a sheer spirit of revenge against the male sex, Miss Havisham has brought up Estella, an adopted daughter, to use her seductive beauty for torturing young men. Pip fascinated by Estella wants to become a gentleman for her sake. Expectations of wealth come to him from a mysterious benefactor. He leaves for London and ungratefully alienates himself from the ever faithful Joe Gargery. His mysterious benefactor turns out to be the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch, whom he, as a boy, had given some food and a file Adversity overcomes Pip, his great expectations fade away and he becomes a penniless gentleman. Estella marries his unprincipled enemy, Bentley Drummle, by whom she is ill-treated most cruelly Chastened by adversity, Pip comes back to Joe Gargery and decides to live by honest labour Estella is widowed. She too has learnt from adversity and is no longer a hater of the male sex. Pip is finally reunited to her unafraid of any other shadow of parting.