Themes, Symbols, and Motifs in Great Expectations

This Storyboard That activity is part of the lesson plans for Great Expectations


Great Expectations Theme

Example



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Activity Overview


Valuable aspects of any literary work are its themes, symbols, and motifs. Part of the Common Core ELA standards is to introduce and explain these complex concepts. However, abstract ideas are often difficult for students to anatomize without assistance. Using a storyboard, students can visually demonstrate their understanding of these concepts, and master analysis of literary elements.


Themes and Imagery to Look For & Discuss

Friendship

True friendship is an important theme. Despite Pip’s changes throughout the novel, his true friends remain loyal to him. Even though Biddy knows Estella is not a good person for Pip, she still aids him in learning and becoming educated. She serves as the voice of reason and constantly reminds Pip how poorly he treats others. Joe is like a brother and father to Pip, he never forsakes him, and even pays off Pip's obscene debts. Herbert assists Pip by providing him a job, even after Pip is nearly thrown in debtors prison.


Social Class

Dickens portrays a strong division between the social classes of London. His personal attitudes are conveyed as the reader is pulled to adore the commoners for their down to earth and genuine personalities. The upper-class are constantly seen as ostentatious, snobbish, and unreasonable. This contrast shows that social status does not correspond with a person’s true worth.


Motifs & Symbols

Settings

Many of the settings in Great Expectations are motifs or symbols. For example, Satis House, where Miss Havisham lives, means ‘enough’ in Latin. The occupants have everything they need, but it has become a time capsule which preserving the movement Miss Havisham was left at the altar by her betrothed. Inside its crumbling walls, clocks stopped, Miss Havisham remains dressed in her wedding gown, and her cake rots on the great table. Each of the items is another symbol of Miss Havisham’s own decay.

Joe’s forge is the opposite; its warm fire and large hearth symbolize the warmth, love, and the friendship that Joe and Pip share. Like Joe, the forge is inviting and accepting.

Just like Pip himself, his apartments in London pretend to be something they are not. Although they are in chic London, they are shabby and poorly maintained. They give the appearance of wealth, but are nothing more than glorified slums.



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Template and Class Instructions

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Student Instructions

Create a storyboard that identifies recurring themes in Great Expectations. Illustrate instances of each theme and write a short description below each cell.


  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Identify the theme(s) from Great Expectations you wish to include and replace the "Theme 1" text.
  3. Create an image for an example that represents this theme.
  4. Write a description of each of the examples.
  5. Save and submit your storyboard.

Template: Theme

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Rubric

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