Novel Discussions

Novel Discussions

Introduce the novel, its author and the time in which it was written. Briefly describe what happens in the novel. Explain how the first chapter establishes important information in terms of character, action and the plot. This opening chapter aims to make sure the reader wants to keep reading. Explain that the themes introduced in the opening chapter continue and develop throughout the novel.

• Characters (Chapter 1) = to whom are we introduced? Who is describing the events? Who do we feel sympathy for? How is the main character described? Describe the convict. Explain how the reader makes a judgement on the type of man he is. Look at the language used to describe Pip and Magwitch.
• Characters (rest of novel) = How do these characters develop? What happens to them? Why? When does the reader feel sympathy for Magwitch? (chp 42). Explain how the initial views the reader held of Magwitch and Pip change over the course of the novel.
• Setting (chapter 1) = Explain social context and make references to the text. Look at the way the weather is described. How is it described? Give examples. What effect would this have on the reader? Identify use of pathetic fallacy and explain.
• Atmosphere (chapter 1) = what is the mood in this chapter? Describe Dickens’ use of language such as adjectives. How does he build up fear and tension? What effect would this have on the reader? Why humour?
• Atmosphere (rest of novel) = Suspense and humour are used at various points in the novel e.g. chp 55 when Pip has no expectations there is suspense and humour.
• Themes: (Need to discuss each theme and show how it is introduced in the first chapter and then developed in the rest of the novel): Gentleman and respectability; Crime and punishment; Parents and children; Power and powerlessness.


What questions does the first chapter raise for the reader? What techniques has Dickens used to make sure his readers want to keep...

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