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Great Expectations

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

Lies and Deceit Theme

Great Expectations has more secrets than a season of Pretty Little Liars. From the source of his fortune to the mystery of Estella's parentage—not to mention all the minor secrets, like Wemmick's secret second self or the fate of the pork-pie—the novel is full of people lying, covering up their tracks, and misdirecting the truth. Is honestly always the best policy? Or do some of these lies end up working for good?

Questions About Lies and Deceit

  1. Do lies influence Pip's innocence or loss of innocence? Do you think he wishes he'd never found out the source of his fortune?
  2. Why doesn't Wemmick want to show Jaggers his Walworth side? Is this a harmless deceit, or should Wemmick really 'fess up?
  3. Are any lies good in this novel? Can deceit ever be justified?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Jaggers is the only consistently honest character in Great Expectations, even if he is a lawyer.

By deceiving himself, Pip brings about his own ruin.

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