Great expectations Essay
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How does Dickens create tension and interest in chapters 1 and 8 of “Great Expectations”? Charles Dickens was born 7th February 1812 and died 9th June 1870. He was the most popular English novelist of the Victorian era. He created some very memorable characters and included the theme of social reform throughout his work. The work that Dickens created used very complex and convoluted sentences and made all of his stories believable by including real life experiences. He also creates interest by using imagery and figures of speech.
The novel is about a boy growing up with no family but his sister and has no proper education. The novel begins with Phillip Pirrip or Pip being a poor child but then he comes into some money and has ‘great expectations’ but does not know how or why this has happened. The two chapters studied included Pip being threatened by an escaped convict and Pip being moved to live with a different family. Dickens creates tension in these two chapters to keep the reader interested and excited. It was written in a semi – biographical style and is based on the life and experiences of Dickens.
The original story was published in December 1860, 10 years before the death of Dickens. In chapter one, the first way in which Dickens creates tension is to describe the setting. He says that it was “a raw afternoon towards evening” in a “churchyard”. This helps to create tension as it says that it is nearly the evening and so it will be getting dark and also in a graveyard and because this is no place for a small child to be on their own this helps to build up tension and to create an atmosphere.
Also because it says that it was a “raw afternoon” it suggests that it is cold and dull and this makes the reader think that something bad is happening because it is Pathetic Fallacy, this means that an atmosphere has been created by the description of the weather. If it was a sunny day then it would suggest to the reader that something good is going to happen, but because it is dark and cold it suggests to the reader that something bad will happen and this builds up the tension in the reader.
This all shows how Dickens creates interest and tension through the description of the weather and setting in this chapter, also how he used different techniques to frighten the reader somewhat. Dickens also creates interest and tension in the first chapter by the description of the escaped convict. When this character is first introduced he immediately seems scary and it makes the reader feel unsafe as it is no place for pip to be. “Hold your noise! Cried a terrible voice” This shows that the first impression of this new character is bad and makes the reader scared. Also the description of this character creates interest and tension.
“A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints” This shows that the convict has been through a lot of pain a misery and this creates interest for the reader. The reader knows that this character is an escaped convict as it says that he had “a great iron on his leg” and this was given to prisoners in those days to try and stop them from escaping, and this immediately creates tension and fear as he has obviously committed a crime before and so will not be afraid to do it again and so the reader is worried about pip at this point.
This paragraph also says that he was “a man with no hat” and this creates interest and suspicion as in this time men always used to wear a hat as this was what they did and this shows that he is not a normal person and so this shows interest to the reader. This shows how Dickens created tension and interest in the description of his characters and how they spoke in this story. It shows how Dickens used speech to make the reader feel uncomfortable and unsafe. Interest and tension is created in chapter 8 when Dickens describes the house where Pip is going to stay. In the description he said that it was “dismal and had a great many iron bars”.
This makes the house seem much like a prison and this creates tension as prisons and scary and unhappy places and so it makes the “Manor House” seem big, empty and scary and this creates sympathy by the reader for Pip as it will not be a very nice place to live. The description of the houses also says that “it was paved and clean, but grass was growing in every crevice”. This creates tension and interest as it makes the house seem very lonely and empty and that it could possibly become quite scary for the young boy. In the text it also says “the brewery beyond stood open, away to the high enclosing wall; and all was empty and disused”.
This phrase relates back to the theme of the house being much like a prison as it has very tall wall in order to keep the inhabitants of the house from ‘escaping’. This creates tension once again as it makes the house seem very empty and quite spooky and this makes the reader feel sympathy for Pip. This description of the manor house shows how dickens used vocabulary very effectively to create much tension and interest for the reader and to make them feel as they are part of the story. Dickens also creates tension and interest in chapter 8 by the use of speech and also the description of characters in the story.
When Mr. Pumblechook says, “Boy! Let your behaviour here be a credit unto them which brought you up by hand! ” This phrase suggests that Pip was beaten when he was growing up when he did something wrong and here he is being threatened to be hit I he misbehaves. This creates interest and tension as there is a chance that Pip will be hit and this makes the reader fear for Pip and want to help him. Also when Dickens describes a character of sitting “corpse like” it creates tension for the reader as it suggests that she is very old and that she looks very scary and strange.
It creates the effect of darkness and ghosts as this is associated with the dead and this helps to create tension and to keep the reader interested. Overall in the two chapters I found that the use of different complex techniques such as pathetic fallacy and the thrilling description of the setting and surroundings, and also the characters and their way of speech made the text very exciting and also created lots of tension and interest that kept the reader entertained and amused. It created sympathy and empathy in the reader and was also very believable as real life experiences had been used and so this interested the reader even more.