Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. Pip is an orphan boy, a blacksmith's assistant living with his sister and her husband in a small English village. How does Pip visualize his dead parents? Does the boy suffer from want and privation? Why is Pip's life with his sister so unpleasant? Would you agree that Dickens takes pains to present young Pip with great sympathy?

2. Why is Pip's confrontation with the escaped convict traumatic? What circumstances make this vivid scene in the marshes so terrifying? Although the reader does not realize it at the time, this event is central to the story. Why?

3. Eccentric old Miss Havisham summons Pip to wheel her about and be a companion to her ward, Estella. But what is her real motive? Why is she embittered against men? Is she believable as a character?

4. Pip's life as a blacksmith's apprentice comes to a sudden end with the arrival of the lawyer, Mr. Jaggers. What surprising disclosure does Mr. Jaggers make? How does it change Pip's life?

5. Pip goes to London to become educated as an English gentleman. What happens to him in his life there? Would you agree that he becomes less admirable? How does Dickens criticize the concept of the "English gentleman"...

(The entire section is 401 words.)