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Analysis of the Novel Great Expectations Discussion

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Character Sketch Characters Analysis Character Sketch/Analysis 1. Who is the character? What is the title of the literary work? Who is it written by? 2. What does the character do in the story? 3. What is the character like? (Describe, analyze, and comment) 4. Conclude (concluding sentence) Character Sketch of Miss Havisham 1. Who is she? (She is an old eccentric old lady in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations) 2. What does she do? (She plots revenge against men in general, including Pip, through her adopted daughter, Estella.) 3. Describe: She is introduced as an old white-haired woman with wild eyes, living her days in a yellowed wedding dress… 4. Comment/Analyze: Dickens uses Miss Havisham’s character as an example of single-minded vengeance pursued purely for destruction. Elaborate! 5. Conclude: Does she change? Does she develop as a character? Character Sketch of Joe Gargery 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Who is she? What does she do? Describe: Comment/Analyze: Conclude: Great Expectations Lecture 5 Major Characters • Pip • Miss Havisham • Estella • Abel Magwitch Minor Characters • • • • • • • • • • Joe Gargery Mrs. Joe Compeyson Biddy Herbert Pocket Mr. Jaggers Mr. Wemmick Bentley Drummle Uncle Pumblechook Orlick • Pip: He is the narrator and protagonist of the novel. He is an orphan who grows up with his sister and brother-in-law the blacksmith only to find himself suddenly endowed with a large sum of money, the “great expectations” of the title. The novel is a bildungsroman; a story of Pip’s growth and development within a strict social order. • Readers perceive two characters of Pip: the protagonist going through life, and the grown narrator relating the story. • One of Pip’s strongest characteristics is his desire for selfimprovement. Unfortunately, his desire blinds him from seeing the truth about people. Grown Pip often criticizes himself for his narrowminded treatment of those around him, e.g., Joe and Biddy. • When Pip discovers that the mysterious fortune he receives came from the convict Magwitch and not Miss Havisham, his narrow view of the world crumbles. Magwitch is not a refined man, but he is one of the few that treat Pip with kindness. • Pip gains self-knowledge and a sense of proportion over the course of the novel, maturing into the realization that status is meaningless without humanity. • Miss Havisham: She is the daughter of a wealthy brewer. We never learn her first name, but we learn that she has been betrayed by her to-be fiancé, Compeyson, who abandons her on the day of the wedding. As a result, she stops everything in her life at the exact time she received the letter from Compeyson. • At the time Pip meets her, she is an old white-haired woman with wild eyes. She is an utterly self-centered person who creates a heartless woman out of Estella. She is a cynical character motivated entirely by hatred and vanity. • Externally, she is the wealthy, eccentric old woman who lives in aa manor called Satis House near Pip’s village, and who took in Estella as a toddler to raise as her own. Behind closed doors she is insane. She wears an old tattered wedding dress, keeps a decomposing banquet on her table, and surrounds herself with clocks stopped at twenty minutes to nine. • Chapter 12 (VII) page 50: “I had heard of Miss Havisham up town, everybody for mils round had heard of Miss Havisham up town, as an immensely rich and grim lady who lived in a large and dismal house barricaded against robbers, and who led a life of seclusion.” • Chapter 13 (VIII) page 56: “She was dressed in rich materials, satins, and lace, and silks, all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white. Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table. Dresses, less splendid than the dress she wore, and half-packed trunks, were scattered about. She had not quite finished dressing, for she had but one shoe on, the other was on the table near her hand, her veil was but half arranged, her watch and chain were not put on, and some lace for her bosom lay with those trinkets, and with her handkerchief, and gloves, and some flowers, and a Prayer-Book all confusedly heaped about the looking-glass.” • Estella: She is the daughter of Magwitch, taken by Miss Havisham from the age of three and taught to hate and mistreat men of all kinds. She is cold, cruel, beautiful, and untrustworthy. • The reader sees her through the eyes of Pip who falls in love with her and never separates her attractiveness from her social superiority. The more Pip loves her, the more Estella seems to enjoy torturing and manipulating him. • She struggles with the cruelty and shame she is made to endure throughout her life. Her marriage to Drummle prolongs her own agony, but near the end of the novel she learns the same lesson as Pip: feelings cannot be suppressed enough to prevent us from feeling,and holding emotions back cripples us. • Although Estella is an unlikeable character, she should be viewed as an abused child. She has been manipulated by Miss Havisham to remove all kindness and natural feeling from her nature, leaving her permanently unhappy. • At the end of the novel, Estella experiences her own kind of growth and understanding. • Despite being the daughter of a convict, Magwitch, and a murderess, Molly, readers cannot help but admire Estella’s honesty with Pip. • P. 301 • Abel Magwitch: He is the father of Estella, the husband of Molly (Jaggers’ house-keeper), the enemy of Compeyson, and the creator of Pip’s great expectations. He is central to the novel even though he is a prisoner/convict throughout most of the story. He helps Pip as a return for his kindness to him in the churchyard. • He spends years of hard work to repay his minor debt to Pip and fulfill his great fantasy of creating a “gentleman”. He is a realist, for he does not think of setting himself up as a gentleman in a fine house with good clothes and food. Instead, he sacrifices himself for his ideal of what a gentleman ought to be. • At the end of the novel, his crimes catch up to him and he is caught. • Chapter XXXIX / Chapter XX – Page 315 • Joe Gargery: He grew up the son of a drunken father and had to quit school to support his mother. Until he marries Biddy, he never learned to read or write. But he has great skill as a blacksmith. • He is kind, thoughtful, generous, and humble. He loves Pip and endures the vicious treatment of Mrs. Joe for his sake. • When Pip treats him in a snobbish manner, he is saddened but understanding. Pip eventually comes to realize and appreciate Joe’s true goodness at the end of the story. • Chapter 2 (II) page 8 • Mrs. Joe: She is Pip’s older sister. She is mean-spirited, harsh, and cruel in her behavior to both Joe and Pip. • Compeyson: He is a minor character but plays two key roles in the story. He is the man who abandons Miss Havisham and he is Magwitch’s former partner in crime, who is also responsible for his capture. In contrast to Magwitch, he appears gentlemanly and refine, however, he is entirely without the idealism of Magwitch. • Herbert Pocket: He becomes friends with Pip and his “tutor” in becoming a gentleman. He appears good-natured and cheerful. • Mr. Jaggers: He is a shrewd, arrogant, and careful lawyer. He never commits himself to anything, and he is apparently interested only in things which will make money for him. In his dealings with Pip, he is fair and ethical and sometimes seems to be trying to protect him. • Mr. Wemmick: He is the clerk at Jaggers’ law office. He is charged with taking care of Pip. He is kindly, and particularly affectionate towards the “Aged Parent” of whom he takes care at home. • Bentley Drummle: Bentley Drummle is a minor member of the aristocracy who is acutely aware of his status and not particularly aware of anything else. He is arrogant and stupid, and his attraction to Estella, whom he marries, seems superficial. Unsurprisingly, his marriage to Estella is not a happy one. • Pumblechook: He is a stingy tradesman, notable for his pretense and untruthfulness. He represents the rising middleclass that Dickens detested. He thinks he helps Pip achieve his great expectations and expects gratitude from him.
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