Plot Diagram | Great Expectations Summary
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A common use for Storyboard That is to help students create a plot diagram of the events from a novel. Not only is this a great way to teach the parts of the plot, but it reinforces major events and help students develop greater understanding of literary structures.
Students can create a storyboard capturing the narrative arc in a novel with a six-cell storyboard containing the major parts of the plot diagram. For each cell, have students create a scene that follows the novel in sequence using: Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
Example Plot Diagram for Great Expectations
Due to the length and multiple subplots of the novel, it is helpful to use more than one cell, where necessary, to show a part of the plot diagram.
Cell 1: Pip is introduced in a graveyard, visiting the markers of his parents. An escaped convict grabs him and demands a file and food.
Cell 2: Pip is brought up by his sister and her husband, Joe, a blacksmith. Mrs. Joe is seen as the antagonist, constantly punishing Pip and reminding him that she brought him up ‘by hand’. Conversely, Joe is Pip’s best friend.
Cell 3: Joe’s uncle arrives one day, and says he has a great opportunity for Pip to go on a play-date at a rich woman’s house. Immediately, Mrs. Joe sees this as an opportunity for Pip to make money.
Cell 4: At Miss Havisham’s home, Pip plays with her daughter, Estella. He goes there for quite a while and eventually develops feelings for the young girl, despite her scornful disposition.
Major Inciting Conflict
Cell 5: Pip begins to lie to Joe and his wife about what he does at Miss Havisham’s. Pip changes as he struggles to become educated and less ‘common’ for Estella.
Cell 6: Years have passed, Pip has become an apprentice to Joe, and is no longer visiting the Havishams. He goes to see Miss Havisham on her birthday, hoping to see Estella, but instead meets her family. Miss Havisham manipulates Pip, and toys with his emotions by asking him personal questions about Estella.
Cell 7: One day, while Pip is at the local bar with Joe, a lawyer appears and asks for Pip. This man tells Pip that he has been named in a large inheritance and will move to London at once.
Cell 8: In London, Pip is required to be tutored to became a gentleman. Suspiciously, he is being tutored by a nephew of Miss Havisham. He also ends up rooming with Herbert, the son of his tutor. These coincidences lead Pip to believe that Miss Havisham is trying to arrange for him to be with Estella.
Cell 9: During his time in London, Pip is rebutted by Estella, treats Joe as a peasant, and becomes a hostile person, driven by greed and desire.
Cell 10: Then one evening, while Pip is home, he has a strange man come visit. The man reveals his true identity as Pip’s benefactor, Abel Magwitch, the convict from the marshes. At this time, Miss Havisham’s past is revealed, and Pip is ashamed that his money came from a criminal and threatens to desert him.
Cell 11: Pip goes to Satis House to confront Miss. Havisham. He is angry, believing she has led him on for years about being with Estella, who he recently found out is to marry another man. Once there, Estella gets in a fight with Miss Havisham, and the truth about her manipulation is revealed.
Cell 12: Both Herbert and Pip have been living beyond their means. Pip devises a plan to help him, but he will need a sizable amount of money. Despite his last encounter with Miss Havisham, he goes to her to save his friend from bankruptcy. He bargains his forgiveness for her help. As he is leaving, Miss Havisham's dress catches on fire. Pip attempts to put it out, leaving both of them badly injured.
Cell 13: Pip tries to help Abel escape London when they realize they are being followed by one of Abel’s old enemies. While fleeing on the river, a fight ensues, and Abel is fatally wounded. On Abel’s death bed, Pip has an epiphany. He lies to Abel so the man can die happy.
Cell 14: After Abel's death, Pip goes into a downward spiral. He is in over his head with debt. His years of living beyond his means have caught up with him, and he has a breakdown when he is thrown into debtors' prison.
Cell 15: Pip is in debt and falls ill. When he awakes, he learns that Joe has paid off all his debts.
Cell 16: In the very last scene, Pip returns to Satis House after Miss Havisham's death, and he encounters Estella. Together they walk off holding hands.
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Lesson Plan Reference
Grade Level 9-10
Difficulty Level 3 (Developing to Mastery)
Type of Assignment Individual, Partner, or Group
Type of Activity: Plot Diagrams and Narrative ArcsCommon Core Standards
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/6] Analyze a particular point of view or cultural experience reflected in a work of literature from outside the United States, drawing on a wide reading of world literature
- [ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/9] Analyze how an author draws on and transforms source material in a specific work (e.g., how Shakespeare treats a theme or topic from Ovid or the Bible or how a later author draws on a play by Shakespeare)
[ELA-Literacy/RL/9-10/10] By the end of grade 9, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, in the grades 9-10 text complexity band proficiently, with scaffolding as needed at the high end of the range.
By the end of grade 10, read and comprehend literature, including stories, dramas, and poems, at the high end of the grades 9-10 text complexity band independently and proficiently
Create a visual plot diagram of Great Expectations.
- Separate the story into the Exposition, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action, and Resolution.
- Create an image that represents an important moment or set of events for each of the story components.
- Write a description of each of the steps in the plot diagram.
(Modify this basic rubric by clicking the link below. You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)
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