Hope and social exclusion are two competing themes. The eponymous "Expectations" refers to its Victorian definition, "a legacy to come". The title immediately announces that money plays an important part in the novel and its themes but is only part of a broader package whose coherence John Hillis-Miller highlights in his book, Charles Dickens, The World of His Novels.
John Hillis-Miller first shows that, as in many novels by Dickens, most characters, and in the beginning, the protagonist, are "outcasts" living in insecurity. Thus, Pip, orphaned, grows up in a world full of sinister tombs, dangerous swamps, and threatening masses of prison ships emerging from the fog that dominate the shores. His existence reproaches him: "I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion and morality".
Some of the major themes of Great Expectations are crime, social class, empire and ambition. From an early age, Pip feels guilt; he is also afraid that someone will find out about his crime and arrest him. The theme of crime comes into even greater effect when Pip discovers that his benefactor is a convict. Pip has an internal struggle with his conscience throughout the book. Great Expectations explores the different social classes of the Georgian era. Throughout the book, Pip becomes involved with a broad range of classes, from criminals like Magwitch to the extremely rich like Miss Havisham. Pip has great ambition, as demonstrated constantly in the book.