On a cold winter's day, an escaped convict accosts a young orphan, Pip, in the marshes, ordering the terrified boy to steal a file from his brother-in-law's forge so that he can remove his shackles. When Pip returns, he brings a piece of pie as well as the file: an innocent act of kindness that touches the filthy, battered man, who nevertheless is soon recaptured. Pip learned such kindness from his brother-in-law Joe, the only person who has ever treated him with tenderness, as his sister Mrs. Joe constantly abuses him and Joe's assistant, Orlick, menaces Pip for sport.
But when Pip is summoned to the grand but dilapidated Satis House by its reclusive owner Miss Havisham, he is subjected to fresh abuse in the form of humiliation by Miss Havisham's cold-hearted but beautiful adopted daughter, Estella. Pip desperately yearns for a match with Estella, in spite of Miss Havisham's inscrutable manipulations, but it's not until an anonymous benefactor bestows great expectations of status and wealth upon Pip that he dares to hope that Estella can be his. From the warmth of the forge, Pip journeys to London to pursue the life of a gentleman. But how far will he go for love?