Understanding Great Expectations Theme Classism

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1 Understanding Great Expectations Theme Classism While Pip is a young boy, he admires Joe and wants to grow up to be like him in many ways, looking forward to the day he becomes Joe s apprentice. After his experience with Miss Havisham, and her snobbish influence, he grows more and more dissatisfied with his station in life, and more embarrassed about his home and family. His desire to be a gentleman shows how much he has internalized Miss Havisham s ideas about class and, by extension, about himself. When he comes into a great deal of money, and learns about his great expectations he immediately becomes more like the upper class people he sees at Miss Havisham s house, offending Biddy and Joe with his condescending and arrogant attitude. Soon, however, when he learns where his good fortune and success truly come from, and the true value of what he has given up, as well as the value of what he has sacrificed for, he begins to understand that he can be good and noble and, most importantly, important, regardless of his economic status or social class. Find five quotes throughout the novel that show Pip changing because of his great expectations. Write the quotes with the page numbers on the right. On the left, explain what change is taking place in Pip and why. Quotes 1) 1) Thoughts 2) 2) 3) 3) 4) 4) 5) 5)

2 Now write a paragraph that discusses how class is used in the novel to develop the characters? What behaviors, habits, or speech patterns are meant to reflect a character s social or economic class? Are these character traits meant to make the character more or less sympathetic? 100 words min. Finally, write a one-sentence thesis statement that you could use to write a literary analysis essay on this topic. Be sure to focus your thesis on the novel.

3 Understanding Great Expectations Theme Crime The first scene in the novel shows Pip confronted with crime and criminals and all of the fear and danger associated with them. Then, throughout the rest of his experience in the novel, crime plays a more and more important role in his development as a man and as a character. There are all sorts of crimes happening around Pip, and through difficult circumstances, Pip himself becomes a sort of criminal on more than one occasion. Every time Pip is forced to participate in a crime, he feels terribly guilty and afraid that others will think less of him. More than that, he feels ashamed to be associated with someone like Magwitch, and especially to be beholden to him. Still, he is too naïve to see the criminality of those around him that he respects and admires for their cultured manners and social status. Mr. Jaggers, for instance, is a shady lawyer who frequently skirts the edge of legality in his work, defending people he knows are guilty and using unethical and even illegal means to make sure they are found innocent. Ultimately, the lines are blurred between convicts who behave very nobly and gentlemen who commit all sorts of crimes against the state, the soul, and the heart. Find five quotes throughout the novel that show someone committing a crime. Write the quotes with the page numbers on the right. On the left, explain what crime is committed and its effects on the characters. Quotes 1) 1) Thoughts 2) 2) 3) 3) 4) 4) 5) 5)

4 Now write a paragraph that discusses how crime is used in the novel to show how complex society is. Who does the novel seem to say the true criminals are? Are all crimes just the ones written in law books, or are there worse things that people can do to each other, which are perfectly legal? 100 words min. Finally, write a one-sentence thesis statement that you could use to write a literary analysis essay on this topic. Be sure to focus your thesis on the novel.

5 Understanding Great Expectations Technique Irony Irony in literature is defined as the difference between appearance and reality, or the difference between expectation and fulfillment. Most of us like plots with twists and turns, surprising events, whether we are reading novels or watching movies. Irony is what creates those plot twists, that moment when we expected the story to go one way, based on all of the evidence, but then suddenly it goes off in a different direction. In good stories, these plots twists are surprising, but not ridiculous. That is, when they happen, we are surprised because we expected something else, but when we think about the way things turned out, the events do make sense in the context of the story, because there were enough clues along the way to make the plot twist sensible and logical. Great Expectations has several of these plot twists, and for good reason. Pip has great expectations about how his life will change, and we share his expectations. When his expectations are turned on their heads, and his life takes an unexpected twist, we are along for the ride, often just as surprised as Pip is. Find five quotes throughout the novel that show some kind of plot twist. Write the quotes with the page numbers on the right. On the left, explain why you expected something different to happen, and why the plot twist makes sense, given the clues left previously by the author. Quotes 1) 1) Thoughts 2) 2) 3) 3) 4) 4) 5) 5)

6 Now write a paragraph that discusses how Pip s expectations are violated. Are the plot twists fairly done? Or are they just wild and random? In other words, did the author provide enough clues and foreshadowing to make the unexpected turns believable when they come, or are they just too far-fetched? Give examples. 100 words min. Finally, write a one-sentence thesis statement that you could use to write a literary analysis essay on this topic. Be sure to focus your thesis on the novel.

7 Understanding Great Expectations Theme Love A major part of Pip s struggle to become a gentleman, and more than that, a man, is his desire to be a lover, a husband, and a father. Early on, he is impressed by both Biddy and Estella, for very different reasons, but as his attitude is corrupted by wealth and expectations of success, he discards Biddy in favor of the beautiful social climber Estella. Even failure after failure with Estella cannot dissuade him from trying to win her. More than that, Pip has so many examples of love and marriage being abusive and painful around him, in the Gargery s and Miss Havisham especially, that the reader could assume that Pip would want nothing to do with romance and marriage and love. Still, he perseveres in pursuing Estella. The question is, is it her attention and love that he really desires, or is it her physical beauty and social status that has him so obsessed? Does he have feelings of true love for her, or does he see her as just another step towards the status of gentleman, another badge to wear, or a symbol of his success? Find five quotes throughout the novel that deal with love and marriage. Write the quotes with the page numbers on the right. On the left, explain how the relationship is depicted in the novel, whether it is a benefit to the characters involved, or something that causes them sadness and destruction. Quotes 1) 1) Thoughts 2) 2) 3) 3) 4) 4) 5) 5)

8 Now write a paragraph that discusses how love and marriage are depicted in the novel. Which characters are truly happy in their loves? Does the novel suggest that love is only destructive, or does it build us up as well? If there is any benefit in love and marriage, then what relationship in the novel shows this? 100 words min. Finally, write a one-sentence thesis statement that you could use to write a literary analysis essay on this topic. Be sure to focus your thesis on the novel.

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