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AKang47
08-23-2011, 08:42 PM
So I'm writing an essay on the themes of good and evil in Great Expectations.

This is what I have so far:

There are many ways in which Dickens presents themes of good and evil in Great Expectations. He presents them primarily with characters, actions, and thoughts. To the main character Pip, good and evil are very clear cut at first. Pip is very idealistic and childish. He believes that people like Magwitch are bad because they are convicts and people like Drummle are good because they are gentlemen. He believes that gentlemen are supposed to be more morally, socially, and educationally advanced, while in truth Drummle is the exact opposite. Magwitch is a pretty good person at heart, but circumstances force him to do bad things and he gets thrown in jail many times. However people like Compeyson, who are inherently evil, can get away with little to no punishment. Because of Magwitch’s bad appearance, he gets longer sentences while Compeyson, who is actually more evil, gets shorter or no sentence because he looks and acts like a gentleman.
Dickens also explores themes of good and evil with the characters Orlick and Mr. Jaggers. Orlick is a simple character but he is very evil and his actions cause Pip much grief, guilt, and even danger. Pip is sad when Mrs. Joe dies and this is because of Orlick. Because Mrs. Joe was killed with a leg iron that was cut off by a file from Pip, this causes him to feel guilty, even when it is barely his fault. Lastly, Orlick even tries to kill Pip when he calls Pip to the marshes alone.
The character Mr. Jaggers can be considered good but slightly evil also. He is a very important lawyer, and with a job like that, he often consorts with evil criminals. But even they are scared of him. But despite this, it is shown that he has a conscience. He really cares for Pip and other people as well. He even helped Miss Havisham to adopt Estella. Estella would never have gotten such a refined upbringing if she hadn’t been adopted by Miss Havisham.
Another way good and evil is shown, is through the theme of guilt. Pip especially feels guilty about many things; he is plagued by his conscience. Whenever Pip does something bad he feels very guilty and doesn’t pay much attention to his good actions. Although Pip is not evil, he sometimes feels that he is, or that he has done something very bad. Other characters like Mr. Jaggers feel guilty about consorting with criminals so he obsessively washes his hands so he does not become like them.

So I need to write about a page more.

What can I talk about, that I haven't already covered?

Charles Darnay
08-24-2011, 12:27 AM
I don't know if adding more is the right course of action here, but rather refining what you have. First, you should have evidence from the text in the form of direct quotes or direct references. Second, you introduction and specifically your thesis needs some elaboration. Your thesis seems to state that good and evil is expressed through character, action, and thought, but your essay is not organized along those lines. Your essay rather focuses on good and evil as illustrated through different characters (yes their actions and thoughts enter into it, but the focus is on character) - so your thesis should reflect that. That's just a start.

OrphanPip
08-24-2011, 01:59 AM
Charles is right, you need to focus this essay, because right now it's zipping all over the place without any structure. For such a short paper, you're better to look at something specific, like the character of Magwitch, or Ms. Havisham.

You are also making the really bad mistake of regurgitating the plot and expecting us to draw the same conclusions from these plot points that you have got floating around in your head. You've got to tell your reader why Pip's guilt is somehow important to the representation of good and evil in the novel, rather than just telling us Pip feels guilty at some points.

You've keyed into one of the major motifs of the novel, which is repeated misconceptions. Why is Pip always so wrong about people?

AKang47
08-24-2011, 09:57 PM
Charles is right, you need to focus this essay, because right now it's zipping all over the place without any structure. For such a short paper, you're better to look at something specific, like the character of Magwitch, or Ms. Havisham.

You are also making the really bad mistake of regurgitating the plot and expecting us to draw the same conclusions from these plot points that you have got floating around in your head. You've got to tell your reader why Pip's guilt is somehow important to the representation of good and evil in the novel, rather than just telling us Pip feels guilty at some points.

You've keyed into one of the major motifs of the novel, which is repeated misconceptions. Why is Pip always so wrong about people?

Well this isn't an actual essay, its just like a diagnostic test to see where we're at.
But how could I write so much on one character? I can barely write 2 pages about 5 characters.