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Great Expectations Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 10+

Dickens' suspenseful tale a great classic for 10+.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Pip faces a lot of abuse, threats, and difficult situations, complete with foreboding music and characters who are scary to look at. Two main characters die (one engulfed in flames) and Pip nearly dies once. Pip sees criminals hanged. Estella and Miss Havisham are also models of man-hating women, which may offend both sexes and be worth discussing.

  • Families can talk about how Pip keeps his optimism throughout his life. How important is class standing to him? Why? Does he give up anything about himself to be the kind of gentleman he always wanted to be? Do you ever try to give up or ignore parts of yourself because you want others to like you? It's also a good opportunity to introduce children to the book Great Expectations.

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: Pip steals from his house for a criminal. Pip's sister is abusive, saying she wishes she never had to care for him. Miss Havisham conspires to have Estella break Pip's heart. The overall message, however, is to be true to yourself, regardless of monetary wealth, and to show your true love no matter what.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Lots of foreboding and threats of violence, first by Magwitch, then by Pip's sister. Magwitch threatens to "have your heart and liver out" and to eat it. Pip's sister beats him with a switch. Estella slaps Pip on the face. Herbert and Pip box and Pip knocks Herbert down twice, causing him to bleed. Pip sees criminals get hanged. Miss Havisham's dress catches fire and she dies violently. Several men are nearly killed by a ship's engine.

  • sex false0

    Sex: Pip kisses Estella on several occasions, but only on the cheek.

  • language false0

    Language: Lots of abusive language towards Pip, but no swearing.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: The convict chugs brandy and later, Pip and Magwitch share a drink.