How would I approach writing an essay that is a personal response about Pip in Great Expectations?

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lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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To go about writing this assignment, I would start by making a list of characteristics of Pip. For example, is he smart? Is he determined? Is he kind? After you finish the list, go back and, next to each characteristic, write down an example of how he shows this in the literature. What makes a personal response different from a regular essay discussing literature is that you also must put your personal opinion in the essay. What this means is that you connect what you have learned about this character to your own experiences and emotions. Think about this, and then next to each characteristic, write down how it connects to you. Now you have your brainstorming list. At this point, you should think about which characteristics you relate to the most, or which connect the best with your own experiences. Narrow down your list to three, if your teacher wants a 5 paragraph essay.

It is important, when writing a personal response essay, to discuss the point, analyze why it is important to the literary work, then write about your connection to it. For example, if you are going to talk about how kind Pip is, you would first discuss when and how he is kind, and then you would talk about why that is important in the novel. Next, you would connect this to something in your life; perhaps in the same way that Pip is kind to people, you are also kind to people.

This is not your typical essay. The teacher will be trying to discover not just whether or not you read the literature, but whether or not you can see how it relates to you. Be sure to concentrate on this connection, and you should do well.

Here are a few websites with samples that might help you:

http://www.longwood.edu/staff/mcgeecw/sampleresponsepapers.htm

http://www.cod.edu/people/faculty/bobtam/website/sample_personal_response_essay.htm

lusie0520's profile pic

lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

Here is a bit more help for you. Great Expectations traces the development of Pip from his childhood through his adulthood. Pip is an idealist and he is ambitious. He has a romantic soul; this is shown in his childlike belief that he can be with Estella. Although Estella has constantly dismissed him and even tortured him, he still believes he can be with her, if only he tries hard enough. When telling Biddy about Estella, he says, "The beautiful young lady at Miss Havisham's, and she's more beautiful than anybody ever was, and I admire her dreadfully, and I want to be a gentleman on her account." Pip becomes a gentleman, but he does not realize, in his fixation on his romantic dream, that Estella will never feel that way. So, in your essay, look at analyzing this idealism and relating it to your own desire to achieve your dream.

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