Great Expectations depicts the personal growth and development of an orphan nicknamed Pip. It is set among marshes in Kent, and in London, in the early to mid-1800s, and contains some of Dickens' most memorable scenes, including the opening, in a graveyard, where the young Pip is accosted by the escaped convict, Abel Magwitch. Great Expectations is full of extreme imagery - poverty; prison ships and chains, and fights to the death - and has a colourful cast of characters who have entered popular culture. These include the eccentric Miss Havisham, the beautiful but cold Estella, and Joe, the kind and generous blacksmith. Dickens's themes include wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the eventual triumph of good over evil.
Great Expectations is popular both with readers and literary critics, and has been translated into many languages, and adapted numerous times into various media. It is Dickens's second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person. Upon its release, the novel received near universal acclaim. George Bernard Shaw praised the novel, as "All of one piece and consistently truthfull."