What is the significance of the words that appear in Charlotte's web?
Think about the impact of the words that appear in Charlotte’s web – what do they mean to the different characters and what does this tell us about the different characters? Who is baffled by the writing and who accepts it without too much shock? Why are the majority of characters so shocked to see the writing and how does this reflect on them and on nature? How does the appearance of the words shape the story? You could also talk specifically about Charlotte as author and what her legacy is to us and to the characters in the story.
What is the part played by nature in Charlotte's Web?
How far does nature control the events that take place? Talk about the different species in the novel and their particular and wondrous talents. Think about how nature is self-sufficient and harmonious and discuss moments where there is discord in nature. You should address the writing in the web and assess how far you think it is a natural or miraculous occurrence.
Discuss the relationship between the community at the barn and the human community and explain how they interact and what influence they have over each other.
You must decide how similar the two communities are and decide if and at what point they come together. Decide where you think each character belongs (although be careful not to make a list) and how this determines what they are like. How do they learn from one another and what do they have to offer?
Discuss the notion of time passing and change in the novel.
Discuss nature and the Fair. Think about how the novel is structured and how this relates to time. Think about what time means to Wilbur and Charlotte. Talk about the threat of death in the novel and the legacies that are left behind after death.
Compare and contrast the roles of Templeton and Avery in the novel.
Talk about the roles played by each and find specific examples. Discuss how people respond to them and think about who is closest to them. Assess their ways of life against other characters in the novel and see how they compare.
Discuss how different characters view success and wealth in the novel.
It will be important in this essay to think about the novel in its entirety – from Wilbur’s beginnings to Charlotte’s death. Define what success and wealth means in the novel. Think about the success of different characters and assess the different types of success thrown up by the novel. What do you think the novel tells us about notion of success and wealth?
How significant is the advice given by Dr Dorian to Mrs Arable and what light does this shed on the novel as a whole?
Talk about Dr Dorian’s role in the novel and his relationship with Mrs Arable. Talk about how what he says impacts or throws light on other events in the novel. Discuss his philosophy of nature and think about how that fits in with the philosophy of the novel. When you have done that, think about how significant Dr Dorian is to the whole story.
Why do you think the journey to the fair is such a turning point in the novel?
Talk about the actual setting of the Fair and talk about where it appears in the novel. Discuss how the characters act at the Fair and the significant events that take place there. Discuss Wilbur and Charlotte’s goodbye and assess how significant the scenes at the Fair are to the novel as a whole.
Would you describe the novel as pessimistic, optimistic, both or neither? Give reasons for your answer.
Talk about reviews of the novel and find examples to support both points of view. Make sure to come down on one side of the argument in the end and find good and detailed examples to support your argument. This is a question that allows you to say what you think about the novel.
Wilbur has two great friends in the novel: Fern and Charlotte. Discuss how his relationship with each develops throughout the course of the novel.
How are the friendships similar and how are they different? Why do you think Wilbur has such good friends? Think about those characters that do not have friends and assess why. What difference does friendship make to the novel as whole?