Pip does not return to England for eleven years. He comes back to the forge one night in December and finds Joe and Biddy sitting happily at the hearth with their young son Pip. Pip gets along famously with little Pip. Biddy coaxes Pip to marry and, when Pip says he is settled in bachelorhood, asks about Estella. Pip says he no longer pines for her.
Joe and Biddy's family provides the novel's first model of a functional and compassionate two-parent household. And Pip is a part of this family, too, with no further feelings of needing to improve himself or leave this "commonness" behind.
Still, Pip secretly wishes to revisit the site of Satis House for Estella's sake. He has heard that she has been abused by and separated from Drummle, who has since died. Pip walks to the site in the misty dusk and finds only the garden wall still standing. He is stunned to find Estella herself walking the grounds. She, too, has never been back until this night, though the grounds are her only remaining possession. She tells Pip she has thought of him often and has regretted throwing his love away. She says suffering has given her a human heart. They walk out together in the rising mist and Pip says he "saw no shadow of another parting from her."
Estella has acquired humanity and integrity through suffering. The last line of the ending is ambiguous—it's unclear whether or not Pip and Estella go on to marry or whether they simply stay friends. This ending is a revision of Dickens' original ending in which Pip and Estella's final meeting definitely doesn't result in their marriage. Dickens rewrote the ending after the public was unhappy with the first, and this second, happier ending, is the one published as the real ending in most versions of the novel.