Study Guide

Great Expectations Innocence

By Charles Dickens


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Children are our future, right? Well, someone needs to tell the adults of Great Expectations, because, for the most part, they seem to see children as little savages who need to be beaten, abused, and maltreated into submission. From Mrs. Joe's Tickler to the casual cruelty of Mr. Pumblechook and his multiplication tables to the outright emotional abuse of Miss Havisham, innocence doesn't stand a chance. Or does it? Does Pip manage to stay innocent and pure in spite of his childhood?

Questions About Innocence

  1. When are the words "innocence" and "innocent" used in this novel? Who is innocent?
  2. When, if ever, does Pip lose his innocence? Is there a specific moment, or does it happen gradually—or over and over again?
  3. Why does Pip care what Estella says and why does he kick the garden wall after his first visit to Satis House?
  4. Innocence is often associated with childhood. Who are the children in this novel, and what are they like?

Chew on This

Neither Pip nor Estella is ever innocent, because their childhoods are abusive in different ways.

When Pip is introduced to "society" as defined by Miss Havisham, his innocence is lost.

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