Great Expectations Essay
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How does Charles Dickens create effective images of people and places in chapters 1 and 8 of Great Expectations? Great Expectations is a novel that is recognised as a classic. This particular Charles Dickens enchanting tale is based on the life of a young boy in the Victorian times named Pip. He is both the main character and narrator of the novel. In the chapter’s one and eight we meet Pip as well as his older sister and his sister’s husband Joe.
We also meet Magwitch an escaped convict. These characters are representing the lower class of the Victorian society.
I believe this novel is about the fact lower class people may find it harder to push boundaries and achieve big thing. Dickens, I think, is trying to show just how wrong this is that people with lower social status are expected to stay lower class. Other Characters we meet in the novel are Estella the beautiful young adopted daughter of Mrs Havisham an eccentric, and possibly a quite mad but importantly rich old woman.
I think it is no coincidence that Dickens shows these two upper class figures to be bitter and not accepting and at times quite stubborn.
This highlights the idea that Victorian society is socially rigid. It is not based on who or what you are but instead about your heritage and your riches. Dickens uses this novel to demonstrate that people lower class are more than capable to easily slot into the life of riches and perhaps too easily. So the opening chapter starts with Pip he is in the process of analysing his parents and brothers gravestones in desperation for any knowledge of his heritage. This sense of desperation allows the readers to feel pity towards Pip.
This is a great example of how effortlessly Dickens is able to control the emotions of his audience. Also the fact pip was visiting the grave alone may show how lonely Pip is without his parents and he may almost feel anger towards them for abandoning him with his rather unfeeling and regiment sister. She was often inclined to beat him regularly. Dickens starts by describing the graveyard as “a dark flat wilderness. ” This allows the reader to point an image of a quite scary desolate place and perhaps quite intimidating.
Dickens then quickly moves on to describe Pip as a “small bundle of shivers. ” This again allows the reader to point an image but this time of a minute vulnerable child possibly quite haunted at the situation. This contrast seems to exaggerate the timid Pip allows the feelings of sorrow towards him to increase. Dickens then introduces us to quite threatening Magwitch who opening words were “Keep still, you little devil or I’ll cut your throat. ” This instantly makes the reader assume he is dangerous and threatening.
As Pip explains he had a “great iron on his leg” it becomes quite clear he is a convict. This begins to make reader worry for Pip because we are not enlightened as to why he is a criminal. As Magwitch threatens Pip he takes it extremely seriously this helps to enhance three important characteristics of Pip the first that he is extremely scared shows he is very vulnerable and the second is the fact that he replies “sir” shows he has been brought up with manners. This again contradicts negative views of lower class people in Victorian times.
Also the fact he worked out this man could possibly be dangerous showed Pip to be sharp and quick to react. Certain phrases like “Who d’ye live with” makes it clear that Magwitch is from a lower class background. Although after this negativity the reader cannot help but feel pity towards Magwitch and this because you can imagine how difficult it must have been. Dickens shows this in such lines as “A man with no hat, and broken shoes. ” This is Dickens demonstrating his use of description to encourage emotions and reactions.
The first chapter is set in a desolate church yard near the marsh land. Dickens descriptions such as “This bleak place overgrown” and “raw afternoon towards evening” contribute to the ever growing dark and oppressive atmosphere. This kind of description also help to redeem the understandably scared Pip but they almost make him seem more pathetic and helpless. If for example Dickens had decided to set the scene in a pleasant grave yard on a sunny day it would withdraw the sense of suspense amongst readers.
Satis house is introduced to us in chapter 8 as well as the characters Estella and Mrs Havisham. Estella explains to Pip that Satis means enough this was because the designer of the house assumed whoever had this house would be satisfied and need nothing more. This extra information seems to contrast the first impression given to be by Pip where he is describing it as “old brick and dismal”. This allows the reader to ask questions about why such a great house now appears to be in ruins.
The description of Satis house continues in this manner. He also mentions windows were barred and cemented. This makes the house seem daunting. Dickens also makes you acknowledge the houses former glory by saying “there were no pigeons in the dove cot, no horses in the stable, no pigs in the sty, no mat in the stone house, no smells of grains and beer in the copper vat. ” However this line also illustrates how far from it is former glory. This leaves the reader to assume the owner has given up.