Sample questions

  1. In what ways might a knowledge of the social and political context in which Great Expectations was written and first published contribute to an understanding of the novel?

  2. Discuss the ways in which Dickens uses the different locations in Great Expectations in order to emphasise the themes of the novel.

  3. How might Mrs Joe tell the story of her life and Pip's? How would this help the reader to understand the themes of the novel?

  4. In what ways does Great Expectations explore the relationship between family, money and social class?

  5. Discuss the role played by crime, punishment and the law in Great Expectations. Your essay should include a discussion of the significance of Mr. Jaggers and Mr. Wemmick in relation to these topics.

  6. Write an essay on two of the following characters and discuss their role's andsignificance in the novel: Mr. Wopsle; Mr. Pumblechook; Orlick; Mrs Matthew Pocket.

  7. Write an essay describing the narrative structure of Great Expectations and discussing how it may affect the reader's understanding of the action of the novel.

  8. Discuss the relationship between Pip and Herbert Pocket. In what ways are they like and unlike one another?

  9. To what extent is it useful to see the narrative of Great Expectations in terms of a fairy tale or a pilgrimage?

  10. Write an essay on parents (both living and dead) in Great Expectations? In what ways does their presence or absence affect the lives of their children?

  11. Discuss the ways in which Great Expectations helps the reader to understand nineteenth-century attitudes towards children.

  12. Some readers think that Jaggers strikes a note of sinister authority in Great Expectations. How do you respond to his character and role?

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