What's in a Name? Analyzing the Biblical Allusion in Chapter 40

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SWBAT analyze the representation of a subject in two different artistic mediums, including what is emphasized or absent in each treatment by comparing Abel Magwich to that of the Old Testament Abel.

Big Idea

Are the students "able" to undersatnd Abel?

Getting Started

5 minutes

Time to hand in those open responses! I will start class by collecting both versions: the one they were going to hand in yesterday and the edited version from last night's homework.

How does Great Expectations relate to the Bible?

10 minutes

In the chapter we are reading today, we learn the convict's name, both real and assumed. Early on in our reading, we discussed the importance of names in this text; this handout will help us understand the significance of the convict's name.

Before reading chapter 40, students will read this handout to themselves quietly and write a two-sentence summary at the bottom to prove their understanding. The handout is a copy of Genesis 4, the story of how Cain killed his brother Abel. I'm not going to be looking for an in depth analysis of the passage; I merely want the students to understand which brother is which and generally what happened. After reading and learning more about the convict we will return to this story, which juxtaposes generosity and selfishness, much like in Great Expectations (RL.9-10.7). The convict, Abel Magwich, embodies generosity, much like the original Abel, even if Pip doesn't realize it yet (RL.9-10.9).


Who is the convict?

30 minutes

We won't read all of chapter 40 in class, but we will start it together. In this section, we learn more about the convict, including his name. As we read, the students will bullet point adjectives that describe Magwich in their notebook and explain their choices. Ultimately, I want to highlight how different Magwich, the lowly convict, is from Miss Havisham. The best way to do that is to analyze the interaction between him and Pip. The nicer that Magwich is to Pip, the more Pip seems to hate him, and yet Magwich loves him still. Like the Abel of the Old Testament, Abel Magwich offers everything and gives it to Pip; he is complete generosity, whereas Miss Havisham is totally selfish (RL.9-10.3). Understanding these key elements of their personalities will help us understand theme, which will discuss more as we near the end of the text. 

In this clip, student tries to imitate me reading aloud and walking around the room, although I hope that I read with more life!

What's in a Name?

10 minutes

Once we learn the convict's real and assumed name, I will ask the class why Dickens made these choices. It will be important to remember that there is no "correct" answer; instead, we get to interpret and decide what makes sense, given what we know. I will direct them to think about both the synonym "able" and the allusion "Abel" and to write a thesis in the notebooks about what they think. We will approach the assumed name, Provis, similarly. What does the name sound like? What might it connote? This will be a full-class discussion that will be mostly student directed. Although I plan to pose the questions, their answers and interpretations will guide the discussion overall (SL.9-10.1c). 

Wrapping Up

5 minutes

In the last few minutes of class, I will assign homework. Tonight students will finish chapter 40 (there will probably be three pages left to read) and read chapter 41.