Great Expectations Suggested Essay Topics
by Charles Dickens

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Suggested Essay Topics

Chapter 1
1. Why is the first chapter so important?

2. Compare and contrast Pip and the first convict.

3. What examples of humor can be found in the first chapter?

4. Explain why the story is more interesting written in first person point of view.

Chapters 2 and 3
1. Explain how guilt has affected Pip’s life.

2. Define pun, and how it is used in these chapters.

3. Discuss the theme of right and wrong or good and evil.

4. How is the relationship between Pip and his sister different from the relationship between Pip and Joe.

Chapters 4 and 5
1. Describe the Christmas dinner from Pip’s point of view.

2. How are the attitudes of Pip and Joe toward the first convict similar? How does the convict’s behavior warrant some compassion?

3. What themes are beginning to emerge from these chapters?

Chapters 6 and 7
1. How does Dickens build suspense in his novel?

2. Explain how the bond between Pip and Joe becomes even stronger.

3. Describe Joe’s relationship with Pip and his relationship with his wife.

Chapters 8 and 9
1. How does Pip’s day at Miss Havisham’s change him forever?

2. Compare Miss Havisham and Satis House.

3. Describe Estella and her effect on Pip.

4. Relate examples of Joe’s goodness.

Chapters 10 and 11
1. Explain how Pip’s visit to Miss Havisham has affected him.

2. What does Dickens use to create suspense and interest in his novel?

3. Discuss Pip’s encounter with Miss Havisham’s relatives, and what were his impressions?

4. Explain how humor is used concerning Pip and the pale young gentleman?

Chapters 12 and 13
1. How has Pip changed? Give examples of his dissatisfaction concerning his life and his family.

2. Explain what being an apprentice means and how this affects Pip.

3. Write a character analysis of Uncle Pumblechook.

4. Describe the relationship between Joe and Mrs. Joe.

Chapters 14 and 15
1. Write a character sketch of Orlick.

2. Describe Pip’s return visit to see Miss Havisham.

3. Describe Joe and Pip’s relationship.

Chapters 16 and 17
1. Explain the relationship between Pip and Biddy.

2. Discuss the attack on Mrs. Joe and how it affected Pip.

3. Write a character sketch of Biddy.

Chapters 18 and 19
1. Explain the circumstances or coincidences that help make Pip believe Miss Havisham is his benefactor.

2. Discuss the first stage of Pip’s life. How can this stage be called one of innocence or childhood?

3. Discuss the two settings in the novel—that of Satis House and that of the forge with its marshes. What characters are associated with each, and how do they affect Pip?

Chapters 20 and 21
1. Discuss Pip’s impressions of London and give examples.

2. Describe Mr. Jaggers’ office and how it is representative of the lawyer.

Chapters 22 and 23
1. What does Pip find out about Miss Havisham’s past? Relate her story and its effects upon her life.

2. Discuss how Herbert’s new name for Pip is appropriate.

3. What is Pip’s impression of Belinda and Matthew Pocket’s home life.

4. Compare Belinda Pocket’s obsession with social status and nobility with that of Pip’s quest for social status and becoming a gentleman.

Chapters 24 and 25
1. Discuss the dual personalities of Mr. John Wemmick.

2. Describe Mr. Wemmick’s life at Walworth.

3. Discuss the irony of Mr. Wemmick’s labors at the Castle being an acceptable source of pride, and Joe’s labors as a blacksmith being unacceptable to Pip.

Chapters 26 and 27
1. Compare and contrast Pip’s dinner engagement at the home of Mr. Jaggers with that of Mr. Wemmick.

2. Discuss Joe’s visit with Pip. How has Pip changed?

3. What characteristics make a gentleman?

Chapters 28 and 29
1. Discuss the different kinds of love presented in the novel. Give examples to support your essay.

2. Describe how Dickens uses coincidence to piece together his novel, and how do the coincidences affect Pip.

3. How has the relationship between Joe and Pip changed from the beginning of the novel? Explain the reasons for the changes.

Chapters 30 and 31
1. Discuss the romantic involvements of Herbert and Pip. Which relationship is...

(The entire section is 1,382 words.)