How does Dickens introduce character and create atmosphere in the opening chapters of Great Expectations? The novel introduces Pip in a deserted graveyard, he is recalling his experiences from the past. He is a small child who named himself Pip because his “infant tongue” could not pronounce Pirrip or his Christian name Phillip. He is alone and is reading his parents` gravestones, this makes the reader feel sympathy for him, that he is a lonely and innocent boy. He had five little brothers who died at a young age; five little stone lozenges next to his parents` gravestones represent them.
He feels that he owns the marsh, and that it is important to him, the evidence of this is that he states, “Ours was the marsh country”. As the convict approached him, he becomes scared and fears him, he describes him as being a “fearful man”. He is obviously afraid, because the convict describes him as being a “little devil”. Pip responds to the convict’s actions by pleading “O! don’t cut my throat sir” this indicates that he respects his elders and it suggests that he was strictly raised.
He speaks with no hesitation to the convict, he displays this by the way he states his name immediately: “Pip, Pip sir”. We learn that Pip is quite poor because all that was found in his pockets was a piece of bread. Although he is poor, there is evidence that he seems to be fed well, the convict emphasizes this by saying “What fat cheeks you ha` got”.
Pip believes the convict will eat his cheeks as he says that he “earnestly expressed” his hope that the convict wouldn’t really eat them, this is because he doesn’t lie, so he doesn’t think others are capable of lying.
Pip is a strong-minded person who doesn’t want to show he’s afraid, the book suggests this by stating “to keep myself from crying”. He tries to reason with the convict, while trying to calm him down to make him release his grasp, the book portrays this by Pip stating, “If you would kindly please to let me keep upright sir… perhaps I could attend more”. As the convict releases Pip from his grasp, Pip was frightened again and ran home without stopping, this shows what effect the convict has on him.
The convict unlike Pip is an aggressive, sharp man with a “terrible” voice. He obviously lives in an unorthodox way, he has broken shoes and an “old rag” tied round his head, his teeth “chattered” which shows that he is hungry and cold. He demands that Pip says his name, this shows that he is impatient, harsh and very forceful. As the convict requests Pip to tell him where he lives, he reveals himself as being an outcast from the area, he states in an accent “Pint out the place”, this also adds danger to this character because he is a stranger.
The convict handles Pip in a rough manner by turning him upside down and emptying his pockets. He again acts aggressively by saying that he would eat Pips “fat cheeks”. He continues on by making a ridiculous threat especially to scare Pip, “Darn me if I couldn’t eat em”, also showing a sign of desperation. The convict creates a comical act by making a short run when Pip stated that his parents were next to him, but Pip obviously meant the gravestones, this describes the convict as being slightly misunderstood.
He still mistreats Pip, acting as a bully and even abusing him, the book illustrates this by stating that his eyes “looked powerfully” down in to Pip’s. The convict tells Pip a story including words like “your liver shall be torn out, roasted and ate”, he had made the story up to frighten poor Pip, who had already gone through quite enough torture and abuse from the convict, this shows that the convict will not stop until he has completely left Pip with an image of himself as being a nasty and horrible man.
He had left a final mark on Pip, to force him to return the next night with all of the goods, the convict explains this by saying “lord strike you dead if you don’t”. In the opening chapter of Great Expectations, the scene is set in an old graveyard . The graveyard is described as a “bleak” place. Pip creates childish imaginations by describing his deceased brothers’ gravestones as being “five little stone lozenges”. Pip states that “Ours was the marsh country”, which illustrates that he lived in a wild area. Charles Dickens makes you feel that Pip’s world seems violent and death looms always.
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