The Hibbert Assembly
Things to do
1. Draw a picture of Pip and the convict, Magwitch, in the graveyard
2. Pip takes the convict what he has asked for - a file and some food, stealing for him a pie which PIp's married sister has made for Christmas. In Chapter Five of Great Expectations, Pip and his brother-in-law, the blacksmith Joe Gargery, follow a group of soldiers who track down Magwitch and another escaped convict. At the end of the chapter Magwitch "confesses" that he himself stole the pie. Why do you think he does this? What does Dickens want us to think of Magwitch? Notice what Joe Gargery says: "God knows you're welcome to it....We don't know what you have done, but we wouldn't have you starved to death for it, poor miserable fellow-creatur (sic)." What does Dickens want us to think of Joe? How important is it that Joe calls Magwitch a "fellow-creatur"?
3. Dickens's novel Hard Times, which was serialised in 1854 in his journal "Household Words", is about the limitations (even dangers) of a wholly materialistic attitude to life. It is about the denial of what Dickens terms "fancy" but we might see it as about the denial of the human soul. There are many allusions to the Bible in this novel. For example the first chapter is headed "The one thing needful" and the second is headed "Murdering the innocents". a) Read the account of Martha and Mary in Luke's Gospel, chapter ten. Martha is always busy doing housework, but Mary finds time for the "one thing needful", that is to listen to the teaching of Jesus. b) Dickens provides us with a scene in the classroom of Mr. M'Choakumchild's school. Why does he call this "murdering the innocents"? Read the account of the original, literal, murdering of innocent children in Matthew's Gospel, chapter two.
4. After his widowed mother remarries, David Copperfield (in Dickens's novel of that name) is ill-treated by his step-father and step-father's sister. When his mother dies the harsh treatment becomes worse. Eventually David sets out to seek out his father's aunt, Betsy Trotwood, in Dover. Read the account of the last stages of his journey and of the way he is treated when he arrives, in Chapter thirteen, from "A plan had occurred to me for passing the night.." to the end of the chapter. At the end of the chapter, David - the narrator - describes the pleasant room and delightful bed he is provided with. He adds, "I remember how I thought of all the solitary places under the night sky where I had slept, and how I prayed that I might never be houseless any more, and never might forget the houseless." Why does Dickens add those last five words?

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