What are the most important points to ponder when studying Great Expectations by Charles Dickens? ( In relevance to characters, themes, and plot of the novel )

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

One of the most important points to ponder is the wisdom or folly the benefit or harm of toying with another person's life especially, but surely not exclusively, under the outward pretense of doing good when, in fact, selfish pleasure or selfish indulgence is the true aim. This of course refers to Miss Haveshm's manipulation of Pip's and Estelle's lives. Since in the ending Dickins gives them both redemption and some sense of restitution for past depravities aimed at them, it may be hard to sort out a real answer because the story inclines us toward a felt answer.

Great Expectations

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

When reading any work of Charles Dickens, the reader must always consider the author as the social reformer that he was. His novel, Great Expectations, is an example of his extravagant didacticism.  So, in reading this novel, attention should be given to the social lessons that Dickens proffers.  Consider, then, what Dickens thinks of the judicial system of the Victorian Age, the plight of orphans, the decadence and frivolity of the upper-class [Mrs. Belinda Pocket's obsession with titles, for example].

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

What you’ll focus on will depend on your purpose for reading the book.  The enotes study guides are an excellent place to start, because they will give you the big picture.  Even though I teach this book, I also find the questions enlightening.  Some are familiar, but some give me new perspectives.

Focus on Pip and how he grows.  This book is a coming of age story, so that will be important.  You also want to look at how social class is portrayed, and how people move from class to class.

Finally, remember that this book is a mystery!  Watch out for clues, because there are plenty.  You might be surprised at the ending.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial