English Literature KS3 / KS4: Comedy and tragedy in Great Expectations

Tony Jordan investigates aspects of Charles Dickens’ life during the writing of Great Expectations between 1860 and 1861.

He explores Dickens’ sense of tragicomedy and his ability to move between comedy and drama in his writing: what Jordan describes as his ‘streaky bacon’ genius.

Jordan visits Gads Hill Place in Rochester with Professor Juliet John, where most of Great Expectations was written.

There they draw upon contextual information, such as the impact of difficult events in Dickens’ private life, to consider what may have influenced and inspired the writing of this bleak and tortured novel.

This clip is from the BBC series Curriculum Collections.

Teacher Notes

Dickens loved mirrors and his daughter once caught him ‘staring into a mirror making strange faces and noises, creating characters and chiseling them in his mind’.

Students could use a mirror to help create new characters and voices before writing.

Curriculum Notes

This clip will be relevant for teaching English Literature at KS3 and KS4 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and National 4 and 5 in Scotland.

More from the series Curriculum Collections: English Literature / Language

Music in Performance Poetry
What is the power of poetry?
What inspires a writer?
Comic strips and graphic novels
What makes travel writing engaging?
What makes good story writing?
How did Arthur Conan Doyle create the character of Sherlock Holmes?