Interestingly enough, Great Expectations had two different endings. Dickens changed the ending when he was convinced that the first one would not be profitable. I guess everyone’s a sucker for a happy ending! Both scenes have significance, but I tend to believe that the original ending is worth more.
In the published ending, Pip runs into Estella on the ruins of Satis House. She seems to have mended her ways and is ready to ride off into the sunset with Pip. Dickens implies that the two will never part again, and live happily ever after.
I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.
This is an optimistic ending. The significance is that anyone can change, and even if you have been hurt you can still find love.
In the original ending, things do not end with Pip and Estella together. Pip runs into Estella on a street in London. She is married, he is not, and he has Joe and Biddy’s child with him. They shake hands and part ways forever.
I was very glad afterwards to have had the interview; for, in her face and in her voice, and in her touch, she gave me the assurance, that suffering had been stronger than Miss Havisham's teaching, and had given her a heart to understand what my heart used to be.
It’s a matter of taste, but I have always believed this ending to be far more realistic and Dickens's true intention. They have both been through so much that one has to ask if they really would be happy together, or ever can be happy at all. However, the significance of this ending is that Pip has moved on with his life and is no longer pining for Estella. He has learned his lesson. That’s another reason I prefer the second ending.