Tag Archives: prose

Scary Revision Time 2019 (Don Paterson and Great Expectations)

Hello darling Higher students. It’s that time of year again, where you all start panicking and stressing out. Fear not, the revision materials are here to help you remain calm and make sure all those lovely quotes and pieces of analysis are secure in your head.

First up, RUAE. You will find past papers on the SQA website. Go check it out now!

Secondly you need to know your quotes for the Critical Reading paper:
revision quotes

Thirdly, some practice questions focused on your Critical Reading:
Don Paterson Practice Questions
Higher essay questions

And lastly, here’s some sample essays for you to think about:
Estella complex character

GE important incident Havisham and Estella

Havisham attitude

Havisham mental health theme

havisham side-by-side

Pip mixed feelings

Pip moral significance

Pip side by side

Great Expectations Complex character essay on Estella

colour-coded PEEL Estella essay

Below is the Estella essay without the colour-coding. The word document option will help you see the structure more clearly.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens features the character Estella whose complexity lies in the fact that she is Miss Havisham’s adopted puppet, created to break men’s hearts as revenge for her mother yet we feel sympathy for her as she does not understand how to behave in any other way. The novel follows Pip as he falls in love with Estella, rises from poverty to riches at the hand of a mysterious benefactor before finding himself and his purpose in life as a young man. We can discuss how Estella’s complexity helps us understand Dicken’s wider point of being a good person in life.

We first meet Estella at Satis House when Pip goes there to ‘play’ with her at Miss Havisham’s invitation – really he is Estella’s first toy to test her emotional manipulation abilities and show us how she influences Pip’s personality. She flexes these manipulation muscles in her first meeting with Pip where he tells us, “her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.” Here the word choice of ‘contempt’ shows that Estella truly hates Pip. The metaphor of it becoming ‘infectious’ eloquently shows that Pip’s own feelings towards himself change. Estella’s actions cause Pip to dislike himself as a person. He ‘catches’ the ‘contempt’ for himself and starts to judge himself and his background cruelly. Estella does this because she has been brought up to think less of those around her. Estella’s meanness to Pip is the trigger for him to change from a pleasant boy into a snob who criticises himself, she is the trigger for Pip to stop being a good person.

This change in Pip’ s personality continues at their next meeting when Pip fights a boy outside Satis House and catches Estella watching. Pip again tells us, “there was a bright flush upon her face, as though something had happened to delight her”. Estella’s reaction here is disturbing as she seems to be excited by the physical violence, the ‘flush’ hints at a sexual excitement too, she is being trained to delight in others pain – a sadist. This is the first clear sign that Estella thrives on seeing others hurt. She is even seen to reward Pip for fighting by granting him a kiss. This shows her manipulating him, by encouraging his affections for her and suggesting that she needs physical protection in some way. This scene adds a complexity to Estella’s character as it shows she is capable of enjoying things rather than keeping herself neutral to everything. It also adds to the whole story as the event further deepens Pip’s feelings for Estella leading him further into a personality that does not always display positive traits.

We start to feel sorry for Estella when it becomes clear that she is a broken person and Pip still tries desperately to make her love him. She tells Pip, “I have a heart to be stabbed or shot in, I have no doubt, and, of course, if it ceased to beat, I would cease to be. But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no – sympathy – sentiment – nonsense.” Her words here shows she acknowledges her physical heart as something that can hurt or harmed, and she uses alliteration and plosive words to highlight this hurt – ‘stabbed’ and ‘shot’. They add aggression to her tone and make it sound like she is spitting her words at Pip. But then she disregards being able to feel emotions. She refers to these as ‘softness’ suggesting she thinks emotions are something that make you vulnerable. She shows further disdain for them with her list of words ‘sympathy’, ‘sentiment’ and then the final blow, ‘nonsense’. With that word she dismisses Pip’s feelings for her as trivial. In the same speech she also talks of never ‘bestowing her tenderness anywhere’ as she has never had tenderness. With such a statement Estella again refutes any warmth in her personality. There is an irony here though, as in telling Pip such things she is showing him a kindness in trying to warn him away. At this point we feel sorry for Estella, she is a cold-hearted being, because that is what Miss Havisham made her and she attempts to save Pip from her but he will not listen. He is still desperately set on believing the fairytale that Miss Havisham is his secret benefactor and that he is destined for Estella.

As Estella grows into an adult she actually goes against her maker Miss Havisham, much to the old lady’s shock and horror. Miss Havisham is appalled at Estella’s attitude when discussing her engagement to Drummel and Estella responds with “I am what you designed me to be. I am your blade. You cannot now complain if you also feel the hurt.” There is a continued theme here of violence that surrounds Estella. She compares herself to a knife here as both are sharp and can be used to hurt people – a knife physically, Estella emotionally. What Estella exemplifies at this point is how dangerous it is to interfere with people and shape them. She can commit Miss Havisham’s wishes but in doing so she is also hurting Miss Havisham. She does no good for anyone her, not for herself, not for Drummel, not for Pip and certainly not for Miss Havisham. In trying to achieve revenge, Miss Havisham has only hurt herself by cutting short Estella’s love for her.

There is some hope for Estella though, and even she, arguably the most broken character in the book finds redemption. Estella meets Pip at Satis House and reveals Drummel, her abusive husband is dead and she is free to remarry, she tells him, “I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape”. Her word choice here is actually quite sad, although she is speaking metaphorically here about her change of character and says that she is a better person now she is also referencing that part of this change took place as a result of Drummel’s fists – ‘bent’ and ‘broken’. The words are also alliterative and plosive as if mimicking the sound of his raining blows. It is also plausible that Estella actually finds a happy ending after finding herself as we are told by Pip, “I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and… I saw no shadow of another parting from her.” The word choice of ‘ruined’ suggests that both characters accept the imperfections of their past but are prepared to move on from it, the holding of hands shows them finally in partnership and the lack of ‘shadow of another parting’ suggests they intend to be together. This ending shows us our protagonist achieving his happy ending, but it also shows that Estella, as a result of her changes to her life also receiving her happy ending with a man who will care for her and love her properly.

In conclusion, Estella is an immensely complicated character as a result of her upbringing at the hand of Miss Havisham who intends her to be a manipulative heart-breaker. Estella can quickly see that she is inhuman in certain aspects and thrives and gets excited from being able to control the men around her. She feels sorry for Pip though and attempts to protect him from her. This makes us sympathetic towards her as she attempts to protect our protagonist. We also know that her behaviour is not entirely her fault. She exemplifies Dicken’s theme of being a good person as she, like Pip, only gets her happy ending when she changes herself for the better.

Great Expectations Miss Havisham Quotes

“I stole her heart away and put ice in its place.”

“Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy.”

“I’ll tell you,” said she, in the same hurried passionate whisper, “what real love it. It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiter – as I did!”

“Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!”

“The broken heart. You think you will die, but you just keep living, day after day after terrible day.”

“What have I done?” “When she first came I meant to save her from misery like mine” “I forgive her”

Great Expectations Estella Quotes

Estella finds out Pip is a ‘common’ boy.
“Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.”

Estella gets excited seeing Pip and Herbert fight in Satis House garden
‘there was a bright flush upon her face, as though something had happened to delight her’

Estella tries to explain to Pip that she is incapable of love. She shows this truth to Pip in an attempt to be kind, to warn him away from her (although he takes this as encouragement instead – silly boy!)
“I have a heart to be stabbed in or shot in, I have no doubt, and, of course, if it ceased to beat, I would cease to be. But you know what I mean. I have no softness there, no—sympathy—sentiment—nonsense.”

“I have not bestowed my tenderness anywhere. I have never had any such thing.”

Estella gets upset when Miss Havisham tells her off for speaking to her inappropriately when discussing Estella’s engagement to Drummel.
“I am what you designed me to be. I am your blade. You cannot now complain if you also feel the hurt”

Estella separates from Drummel, and his horse kills him two years later. She has learned to be a real person and might be able to love.
“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape”

“I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and… I saw no shadow of another parting from her.”

Great Expectations Pip Quotes

Here is a quote bank to help you out with your essays!

Pip steals a lot of food and brandy for the convict even though he doesn’t really have to. When the convict is caught, Joe’s words show where Pip learned such kindness.

‘Some bread, some rind of cheese, about half a jar of mincemeat… some brandy… a meat bone and a beautiful round compact pork pie’

‘We don’t know what you’ve done but we would not have you starved to death for it, poor miserable fellow-creature – would us Pip?’

Pip is bullied and hurt by Estella on first meeting her, as she thinks he is common.

‘I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry sorry – I cannot hit upon the right name for the smart – God knows what its name was – that tears started from my eyes”

Pip has come into his money, and feels embarrassed by Joe’s ‘course’ actions in London which Pip thinks show Pip up. Joe acknowledges Pip’s humiliation and tells Pip it is because he is out of place.

‘impatient’ ‘out of temper’ with Joe

‘you won’t find half so much fault in me if … you come put your head in at the forge window’

Pip acknowledges all Magwitch has done for him and realises that Magwitch did not choose this life but was forced into it through poverty, everything Magwitch has done was to pay back the kindness Pip showed him as a child.

‘took my place by Magwitch’s side’ acknowledging the ‘affection, gratitude and generosity’ of Magwitch

As an adult Pip is able to realise he is happy and comfortable. He can be with Estella now he understands how to be a good person.
‘I work pretty hard for a sufficient living and therefore – yes, I do well!’

‘saw no shadow of another parting from her’

On one meeting with Estella, before her engagement to Drummel, Pip gives a grand speech about how he loves her.

‘You have been in every line I have read…. Every prospect I have ever seen’

Pip acknowledges whilst he is spending all his fortune in London that you cannot truly change the person you are supposed to be, no matter how much dressing up you do.

“No varnish can hide the grain of the wood; and that the more varnish you put on, the more the grain will express itself.”

Great Expectations Essays

We’re ready for the essays guys! Your favourite part of the course! Remember we are using PEEL to structure our essays.That’s Point, Evidence, Explain and Link Back.

We’ve already taken a look at the questions from the past papers and its clear that we can comfortably answer most of the questions. We probably won’t spend much time on the ‘setting’ based ones purely because we haven’t spent time focusing on this in our discussions during class.

The first question we are going to look at is this:
Choose a novel or short story in which there is a complex character for whom the reader has some sympathy. With reference to appropriate techniques, explain the nature of the complexity and discuss how your response to this character adds to your appreciation of the text as a whole.

We could answer this question by looking at one of three characters: Pip, Miss Havisham or Estella. It makes the most sense to answer it using Pip as he is the narrator and protagonist of the story. If you have a think about Pip’s character, he isn’t always the greatest person despite being in a secure environment. At times he is actually downright unlikeable. We will take him as our character for this essay.

To plan out this essay then we first of all need to think of 5 points from the book that show us Pip is a complex character. There are a lot of points that you could make. Here’s the 5 points we have:

Pip helps the convict out of fear but also kindness
Pip discovers that life could be different if you are wealthy as he is introduced to Miss Havisham and her world
Pip is unkind to Joe and embarrassed by him he starts to live his life in London
Pip looks after Magwitch and turns his life around
Pip fully changes his character for the better by understanding a good work ethic and being morally good.

If these are our 5 points we need to get evidence from the text that supports this. Your first job is to work out what quotes from the text we will use to back up these 5 points. Once you’ve got your quotes we’re ready to start writing!

For your paragraphs you will be using PEEL to structure your response – POINT>EVIDENCE>EXPLAIN>LINK BACK

(Click on the images below to make them bigger.)

Great Expectations Chapter 55 & 56 notes

  1. Dickens does not think all criminals are bad. We know this as Magwitch is not a black and white character. Nor are some of the other characters in this book or his others that commit criminal acts. There are complex reasons behind their acts.

  2. Dickens gains sympathy for the prisoners because it is made clear that the odds are against those on trial before the trial has even begun. The judge already has an idea of who these men are before they are in front of him.

  3. Dickens stops this series of chapters from becoming too heavy by making Pip visit Wemmick to add a bit of lightness.

  4. When Magwitch dies Pip’s story comes full circle. He is finally able to see the humanity in all people or the cruelty in them. He understands that money does not make people worthy, but their actions do and their treatment of others. Having Magwitch hanged would have been a cruel end to Magwitch.

  5. Pip repays Magwitch before he dies by telling him about Estella and telling Magwitch that she is well loved by himself.

  6. Own response on how you think the book will end.