Friday, January 25, 2008

A few more questions

1. What significance does the novel’s title, Great Expectations, have for the story? In what ways does Pip have “great expectations”?

2. For much of Great Expectations, Pip seems to believe in a stark division between good and evil, and he tends to classify people and situations as belonging to one extreme or the other: for instance, despite their respective complexities, he believes that Estella is good and the convict is evil. Yet, both socially and morally, Pip himself is often caught between extremes; his own situation rarely matches up to his moral vision. What is the role of moral extremes in this novel? What does it mean to be ambiguous or caught between extremes?

3. Discuss the character of Miss Havisham. What themes does she embody? What experiences have made her as she is? Is she a believable character? How does she relate to Pip and Estella?


Andi said...

Addressing the issue of Miss Havisham...I thought she was wonderfully wacky and over the top, but ultimately I did find her believable. I was especially touched by her dramatic sense of remorse toward Pip near the end of the novel. And her catching on fire, oddly, reminded me of a Grimm's fairy tale. If iron shoes had been involved it would've been perfect. ;)

Andi said...

The issue of extremes is an interesting one to me. It seems, like most youngsters, Pip does buy into that strictly good/bad dichotomy, and part of the reason why he's so unlikeable at times is because he's learning to navigate and figuring out that there's a lot of grey area. He himself falls into that grey area quite often as he is essentially a "good" person, but he does a lot of "bad" things in the name of growing up. It's part of life, and it blows. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. ;)

Andrea said...

1) As I was reading the book, I was a little surprised when I saw that for people of that place and time period "great expectations" was a well-known phrase that meant an inheritance of land and money. Obviously, that is a type of expectation, but I had assumed that it just meant Pip had expectations of something more (which he does). So expectations means both Pip's longing for a better way of life, his idea that Miss Havisham has plans for him and Estella, and the money that eventually enables him to lead that "better" life.

3) Unfortunately, Miss Havisham's character is all too believable. I know people who hold grudges and ruin their lives and try to ruin others' lives as a result. Also, her remorse at the end of her life also makes her more believable, because I think a lot of people realize at the end of their lives that some things aren't as important as they always thought.

Wendy said...

I thought Miss Havisham was the strongest character in the book - she is believable (if a bit over the top!) and I think there are people out there like her - completely stuck in their pasts to the point where they wreck their future.

Although Pip sees the world as either good or bad, of course there is gray. And I saw Pip as neither good nor bad. As Andi says...he is a good person that behaves badly. He is also very young through most of the story - and what young person has not made mistakes or thought only of themselves?

Iliana said...

I could also see the title not just referring to Pip but to the expectations we all have in life. Miss Havisham wanted to get married, Pip wants to better himself, etc. Our expectations are always for great things but life takes us for a ride and we have to adjust and make whatever comes to us great.

Michaelann said...

1) I also thought it was odd that everyone in the book seemed to connect expectations with money and land. Everyone in the book, with maybe the exception of Joe, seems to have "great" expectations for themselves and the ones whose expectations were selfish fail.

2)Pip's definition of good and evil are first because of his upbringing. His sister is so strict that any tiny thing he does wrong or annoying to her is something that is going to cause him to grow up to be a criminal. As Pip goes out into the world he is exposed to real life and the fact that nothing is black and white. The people Pip believe to be "good" upstanding people are the ones who end up doing the most harm to others and the ones he sees as "evil" or "common" are the ones who help him.

3)Miss Havisham is an extreme example of what focusing on a wrong and letting it consume oneself. In her hurt she turns away from everyone. Even in her raising of Estella to not get hurt, she imparts her bitterness towards love so deeply in her that in the end when all she wants from Estella is love it is the thing she can't have.

Phoebe said...

1) Pip has “great expectations" that transform as he ages and experiences life. As Andrea said his expectations are definitely not just wealth and bettering his life with property...he has expectations and hopes with regard to Estella that he will not let go. But as obstacles get in his way, the expectations morph and evolve with Pip's maturity.
2) Good and bad are not always what they seem in Great Expectations and you learn not to trust your first impression as Pip moves out of the home he's known with restrictions to a life unfettered.
3) My favorite character was and still is Miss Haversham...probably because she is so over the top. Heartache definitely molded her life and affected her adopted daughter who was the epitomy of a cold fish with an ironclad heart. Her catching on fire is a haunting image that stays with you long after you finish reading the last page.

Kim L said...

2. Pip goes from the extreme of poverty to the extreme of wealth, and he meets both good and bad people in both settings. I think after Pip learns his lesson, so to speak, and has to work for a living again, he finally achieves a semblance of a balance in his life. He belatedly realizes that he himself has been acting awful to people who have cared for him, and too nice to people who haven't showed him care at all (i.e. Miss Havisham and Estella).

3. Miss Havisham isn't believable in real, modern day life so much. I can buy her character in the novel because the setting is so far removed from real life. She seems to represent everything wrong with the upper class, and provides the impetus for Pip to become dissatisfied with his life (although why he'd be jealous of living in a house with a rotting wedding cake is beyond me!) I don't know, put her in today's world and she'd probably be diagnosed with OCD or something and packed off for a 48 hour hold!

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