Socratic Seminar #1 Charles Dickens’

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Ms. Marootian

Honors I

Socratic Seminar #1

Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations

Social Class: Group #1

  1. How does Pip’s social status drive him to want to achieve more?

  1. Would you rather be Pip’s social class or Estella’s during this time period? Why?

  1. Why does Pip feel uncomfortable when he and Joe visit Satis House? Do you sympathize with Pip or Joe in this scene?

  1. What does having a low social status mean today?

  1. What does having a high social status mean today?

  1. Is it easier to go from low to high or high to low social class?

Relationships: Group #2

  1. Why do you think Pip is so “attracted” to Estella when Biddy is much nicer to him?

  1. How is Pip and Joe’s relationship similar to George and Lennie’s from Of Mice and Men?

  1. Compare and contrast Joe Gargery and Atticus Finch as “father” figures.

  1. How do you think Ms. Havisham’s relationship is with Estella? Do you think it is healthy or detrimental, why or why not?

Ambition: Group #3

  1. How does Pip’s ambition get him to London?

  1. How does Pip’s ambition affect himself and others in a negative way?

  1. How are the ideas of ambition presented in Julius Caesar and Great Expectations similar and different?

  1. How does Pip’s ambition differ from Mrs. Joe’s desire to be upper class?

Satis House:

1. How is the meaning of “satis” ironic?

2. How does the physical house (crumbling stones, dead garden) connect to the inhabitants of the house and the upper class as a whole?
1. What do you think the mist on marshes represents?
Bugs and other Insects:
1. Ms. Havisham has a 25 your old wedding cake with a community of spiders and other animals living in it. What is the significance of this?
Whenever Pip kisses Estella’s cheek (2x to be exact) he describes her as a statue, why do you think Dickens includes this?

Additional Questions to Consider:

  1. In what ways are Pip's "great expectations" very modern?

2. Because Pip is narrating his story many years after the events of the novel take place, there are really two Pips in Great Expectations: Pip the narrator and Pip the character—the voice telling the story and the person acting it out. How does Dickens distinguish between the two?

3. As a character, Pip’s two most important traits are his immature, romantic idealism and his innately good conscience: Which of these two do you think will prevail?

  1. When Pip becomes a gentleman, for example, he immediately begins to act as he thinks a gentleman is supposed to act, which leads him to mistreat Joe and Biddy snobbishly and coldly. Do you think people undoubtedly change for the worse when they come into good fortune?

  1. How does Pip’s orphan status prove to be a blessing and a detriment to him?

  1. Although Mrs. Havisham seems to be the true antagonist in the novel, there are some characters that also provide conflict in Pip’s journey. Who are they? Comment on each of them as “villains.”

  1. Dickens wrote a lot of travel books and travel guides. Are there any points in the novel where you hear our author slipping into tour guide? What portrait of London does Charles Dickens paint?

  1. Estella’s name means “star” analyze the significance of this. Can you think of any other significance of character names?

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