Great Expectations is a bildungsroman which depicts the personal growth and emotional development of an orphan nicknamed Pip. It is Charles Dickens's second novel, after David Copperfield, to be fully narrated in the first person. It was first published as a serial in Charles Dickens's weekly periodical All the Year Round, from 1 December 1860 to August 1861. In October 1861, the novel was published in three volumes.
It is set in the misty marshes of Kent, and in London, in the early to mid-1800s, and contains some memorable scenes, such as the opening, in a graveyard, where the young Pip is approached by the escaped prisoner, Abel Magwitch. Great Expectations is full of intense imagery – poverty, prison ships and chains, and fights to the death – and has a variegated cast of characters who have entered popular culture. These include the spectral Miss Havisham, and the cold and gorgeous Estella. The themes of the novel include wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the final triumph of good over evil. Charles Dickens felt Great Expectations was his best work, calling it "a very fine idea".