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KS4 English: Great Expectations 2 (1946)

Exploring how Pip's imagination is brought to life on film

Main image of KS4 English: Great Expectations 2 (1946)
AuthorJessica Hardiman
TopicGreat Expectations
Key Words Dickens, Victorian, Lean, atmosphere, adaptation, Pip
Show full lesson spec

Students infer Pip's inner thoughts using the novel and film texts when Pip steals for Magwitch in Lean's adaptation of chapter two of Dickens' Great Expectations.

A useful extract for teaching Dickens' characterisation.

This lesson idea uses the film to discuss how Pip's inner thoughts are portrayed through the medium of film. The students will gain understanding of the different methods directors can use to convey inner thoughts. They should also be able to evaluate the effectiveness of the novel and film for conveying inner thoughts of characters in different ways. This will secure their comparison/contrasting skills.

Lesson Objective

  • To understand how Dickens and David Lean convey Pip's inner thoughts, and to be able to use comparing and contrasting to analyse the differences between the techniques available for use by Lean as a film director, and their effectiveness.


Students should read two extracts from chapter two/three: 1. Beginning when Pip is interrogated by Mrs. Joe on his return from the churchyard: 'I have only been to the churchyard,' said I, from my stool...I took advantage of a moment when Joe has just looked at me, and got my bread-and-butter down my leg.' 2. Beginning when Pip is alone in his bed 'Since that time, which is far enough away now...Upon which, he put down his head, blew a cloud of smoke out of his nose, and vanished with a kick-up of his hind legs and a flourish of his tail [chapter three]'.

Students should highlight any part of the text where Pip's thoughts are recorded. They should concentrate on two focus questions:

  • what is Pip thinking?
  • how might he be feeling?

Students should feedback their ideas to the group, and have two fully annotated extracts.


Main Attraction

Students should be introduced to different techniques directors can use to convey the feelings and thoughts of characters. Ask students how they think the director can convey this to the audience. Create a spidergram on the board of the students' ideas, ideally enabling them to use a range of formats, from standard writing techniques (e.g. the use of the actor's facial expressions, body language) to more filmic methods: the use of camera angles and shots to display a perspective/surrealism.

Ask students to look back at the first extract from their starter. Students should work in pairs to suggest how this scene could be adapted for cinema, thinking about all the techniques mentioned directly and more.

Ask students to feed back their ideas. What would the audience need to understand from this scene? Would this be achieved from these ideas? Might this improved upon in any way?

Ask students to write a short piece discussing the techniques used in the film, and their effectiveness in comparison to the same scene as depicted in the text. Students should concentrate on using contrasting connectives in their writing, and on using specific textual references (both to the film and to the novel) when completing this task.

Show students the final clip (with Pip in bed/stealing food etc for Magwitch and travelling to deliver it). The clip ends directly before Pip meets Compeyson. Ask them to take notes as before of techniques used by Lean.


End Credits

  • What does David Lean do differently in this clip to convey to the audience Pip's inner thoughts? Ask students to evaluate how effective this clip is, and to give their reasons.
  • Ask students to assess how useful it might be for students of Great Expectations to watch this particular clip, and to evaluate whether film adaptations can be useful for securing the reader's understanding of a character's inner thoughts.

External Links

Video Clips
Great Expectations 2. Stealing for Magwitch (2:24)
Downloadable Teaching Resources

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Great Expectations (1946)Great Expectations (1946)

Read more about this film

See also

Thumbnail image of KS4 English: Great Expectations (1946)KS4 English: Great Expectations (1946)

Comparing the film and novel's presentation of pathetic fallacy

Thumbnail image of KS4 English: Great Expectations 3 (1946)KS4 English: Great Expectations 3 (1946)

Exploring the use of imagery to create dramatic tension

Thumbnail image of KS4 English: Great Expectations 4 (1946)KS4 English: Great Expectations 4 (1946)

Exploring Victorian class distinctions and Pip's snobbery in the film and novel

Thumbnail image of KS4 English: Great Expectations 5 (1946)KS4 English: Great Expectations 5 (1946)

Imagining subtitles and special effects using the film without sound

Thumbnail image of Dickens on FilmDickens on Film

The 19th Century literary giant has long been a favourite of filmmakers