Prof. Gordon Johnston

FYS Great Expectations Assignment Part 1
(Character Study)

For this assignment you will become the class authority on a character from Great Expectations. You will highlight passages describing your character and dialogue that reveals important details about his or her attitudes and personality. Your goal is to know all there is to know about the character you are covering. Here is a list of some things you should look for:
   1. How he/she is described (Keep a running list of adjectives.)
   2. How the character perceives him- or herself and whether or not this perception is realistic
   3. How and when he or she changes in the novel
   4. Characteristic actions he or she takes in the novel
   5. How the character compares to the protagonist in the novel (Pip)--is there a foil relationship between the character and Pip? Or does this character seem to be a foil for other characters in the novel? What other character in the novel is it most interesting to compare your character to?
   6. What are Pip’s judgements about the character? Are they fair?
   7. Which stage in the development of selfhood does the character seem to have reached? Justify your answer with evidence.
   8. What actor would you cast in this character’s role? Why?
   9. What contemporary personality is the character most like? Why?
   10. What human trait, virtue, or vice does this character personify, if any?
   11. What class does this character fit into?

For each question be ready to supply plenty of specific support for your conclusions--quotations (and page numbers for them), observations, analysis, even statistics (how many times is the term post office used to describe Wemmick, for instance?). Your research should begin immediately, as you are reading the novel for the first time. Bring your detailed, organized notes to class daily for possible use in the class discussion. On the day when you should have read the second third of the novel, your notes on your character for that third of the book should be complete.


FYS Great Expectations Essay Assignment (Essay 2)
Due Wednesday, Oct. 2, beginning of class

For essay two, look back over the work you did on a character from Great Expectations and develop an essay on the selfhood or lack thereof of the character you and your partner studied. Focus on answering this question: has the character arrived at a true sense of self? How far along in the process of composing a self is he or she? What is propelling this person along or holding him or her back? Feel free to work in any of the ideas about selfhood and the stages in the development of selfhood that we have studied in class so far. The answers to the list of questions you were to apply to your character should inform your essay, which should be four-to-five pages double-spaced. (The usual standards apply: use MLA citation form, twelve-point type, etc. Keep in mind that I’m tracking your writing for improvement, so don’t make the same mistakes on this essay that you did on essay one. As always, my office door is open if you need help and our preceptors are here to serve as well.)

Warning: While you studied your character with a partner, your essay is your own. Don’t write an essay identical to your partner’s. The two of you may well agree about the character’s selfhood, but make sure you each use different illustrations and interpretations to make your case. This may mean that you will have to negotiate with your partner which passages of the story each of you may cover in your papers.