Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Sample Essay Outlines

  • Topic #1
    Pip's life is influenced by several characters in Dickens' Great Expectations. Some of these influences affected Pip in a positive way; others were negative. Write an essay analyzing the characters who played an important role in Pip's life both in a positive and negative way.

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: The role of Pip in Great Expectations is developed through the positive and negative influences of Joe, Abel Magwitch, and Miss Havisham.

    II. Influences of Joe
    A. Positive influence
    1. Exhibits honesty
    2. Gives Pip's early life stability
    3. Gives Pip unconditional love
    4. Possesses a forgiving nature
    5. Exemplifies the goodness of hard work
    B. Negative influence
    1. Represents the lower class
    2. Is a source of embarrassment to Pip

    III. Influences of Abel Magwitch
    A. Positive influences
    1. Forces Pip to recognize what is really important in his life
    2. Provides the means for Pip to become a gentleman
    3. Loves him unconditionally
    B. Negative influences
    1. Tries to mold Pip into a caricature of the upper class
    2. Represents the lower class and criminal element
    3. Provides the money which will result in Pip's downfall

    IV. Influences of Miss Havisham
    A. Positive influences
    1. Helps Herbert at the request of Pip
    2. Enables Pip to see that wealth does not bring happiness
    B. Negative influences
    1. Manipulates people
    2. Tries to mold Estella who ultimately hurts Pip
    3. Makes Pip unhappy with his station in life

    V. Conclusion: Joe, Miss Havisham, and Abel Magwitch are three major characters in Dickens' novel who have influenced and developed the role of Pip.

  • Topic #2
    Great Expectations is a portrait gallery of many characters. These characters are interwoven throughout the novel in a masterful way. Write an essay illustrating how suspense and coincidence help tie these characters together and create an exciting novel for the reader.

    Outline
    I. Thesis Statement: The use of suspense and coincidence helps Dickens create not only a spellbinding novel to read, but an array of characters whose lives are interwoven one with another.

    II. Coincidence
    A. Enables characters to be tied together
    1. Magwitch knew and was associated with Miss Havisham's fiancee
    2. Molly is Estella's mother
    3. Magwitch is Estella's father and Pip's benefactor
    4. Pip loves Estella and she is Magwitch's daughter
    5. Mr. Jaggers is Miss Havisham's and Abel Magwitch's lawyer
    B. Promotes the plot
    1. Pip finds Magwitch in the cemetery and helps him
    2. Pip meets and falls in love with Magwitch's daughter at Miss Havisham's house
    3. Pip receives his fortunes after his many visits with Miss Havisham
    4. Pip accidentally drops the note from Orlick

    III. Suspense
    A. Creates interest for the readers
    1. Pip does not really know...

(The entire section is 886 words.)