Renoir Young Girl Reading


We will be using the Canvas Discussion Board for this class. Click on the link below to get to the Canvas portal, sign in, and then click on the box for this class. You will find the "Discussions" link on the left side of the screen:

Discussion Board

Charles Dickens, Great Expectations Link

1. Sylvere Monod says, "...Great Expectations...concerns itself with the weaknesses and pettinesses of mankind and can have no real hero or heroine..." Do you agree? That is, do you see Estella as a "heroine" or Pip as a "hero"? Explain.

2. As I said in the lecture, Dickens added a happy ending to the novel. Below are the two endings; which do you think is more appropriate for the novel?

Ending #1, the original.

"We are friends," said I, rising and bending over her, as she arose from the bench.
"And will continue friends apart," said Estella.

Ending #2, the revision.

"We are friends," said I, rising and bending over her, as she arose from the bench.
"And will continue friends apart," said Estella.
I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her.

  1. The use of coincidence in the novel bothers some readers. Did it bother you?
  2. How does Pip's innocence as a child arouse both humor and compassion?
  3. Pip grows up, but Joe doesn't; do you see Joe as "immature"?
  4. Some critics see Estella as an unrealistic, improbable character. Do you agree?
  5. Some critics see Biddy as "too perfect." Do you agree?
  6. Some critics see the eccentricity of some of the characters--Miss Havisham, Wemmick, the Pockets--as excessive. Do you agree?
  7. Is Magwitch a tragic figure? Or merely melodramatic?
  8. There are "two Pips" in the novel: the young Pip, of whom we are told, and the older Pip, who is telling the story. The older Pip is as stern and honest as possible in his criticism of the younger Pip. There is very little self-pity and there are few excuses. What is the effect of this narration on your perception of Pip?
  9. In this novel, is ambition seen as a good or bad character trait?
  10. Why is Pip so attracted to Estella? Why is he not attracted to Biddy?
  11. Do you see any resemblance between Magwitch and Frankenstein's monster?
  12. Which is better, according to the novel: expectations not met, or expectations realized?
  13. Pip does not achieve his "great expectations," but is there any victory for him in the novel?
  14. Why does Pip forgive Miss Havisham? What has he learned that makes this possible?
  15. Wemmick is surrounded by corruption, but is not destroyed by it. How does he manage this? What is Dickens's point here?
  16. Is Jaggers evil?
  17. The similarities between Pip and Pumblechook make Pip uncomfortable, but they exist. What are they? How is Pip different from Pumblechook?