‘Great Expectations’ narrator is first introduced to the reader not by character or background but by name. The name tells the reader details of his sensitive personality. Pip a simple name, it creates an image of an insignificant person who can easily be put aside and forgotten about. This young boy is portrayed as lonely and friendless because when we first meet him he is visiting the tombstones of his parents and the six stone tablets that tell a tale of his brothers.
Pip formally introduces his sister as ‘Mrs.
Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith. ‘ Such a formal introduction only indicates that Pip does not have a close relationship with the only living family member we know of. This young boy that knows nothing of a loving family or even a close relationship explains to the reader the way his active imagination answers the questions he dare not ask of his sister, ‘What were our parents like? ‘ The narrator then pans over the background surroundings like a camera man explaining the landscape in its bleakness, and …
‘raw afternoon… ‘. He then begins to focus in on the tombstones of his parents and then almost zooms out to the ‘… dark flat wilderness’ going on about the churchyard then further out beyond it to the ‘… dykes and mounds and gates… ‘. We learn of the marshes near a river. Then the wind rushing past and then, is focuses on Pip ‘… the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.
‘ Then a dramatic climax as Pip shares an encounter with a terrifying character, an escaped convict.
Our young narrator is in a state of utter despair and confusion as ‘A fearful man, all in coarse gray, with great iron on his leg’ approaches Pip, the small emotional heap, with such anger and gruffness that he is petrified of such a sudden encounter. The convict turns Pip wrong side-up and threatens him with cannibalistic acts. However, Magwitch, the escaped convict, is very pleased when he learns of Pips relationship with a blacksmith. Pip is demanded to bring a file and ‘whittles’ for this stranger.
Pip agrees after attempts to speak and after being told tales of a man that will ‘tear him open’. Magwitch is happy with Pips word and leaves him as he hobbles into hiding. I found it very interesting how Pip does not run away but stands and watches his torturer as he disappears into the bleakness of the day. Pip’s adolescent mind is intrigued by Magwitch. I feel that Pip felt a bond between himself and such a ferocious beast. They are both trapped, Pip by his low status in the hierarchy of society and Magwitch because of his past offences as a convict.
I think Pip realizes the connection between these two outcasts and this explains his eagerness to help and almost disbelief of the short but life changing encounter with Magwitch. He also shares Pips lonely and fearful characteristics. Their loneliness is unusual because both characters are surrounded by people however not all those people have the best interest at heart or care for these lonely characters. It is for this reason that they are fearful because they can only look out for themselves and fear those around them that are capable of hurting them physically and mentally.
From this first event in the novel I have learnt many things of Pip and his relationships or perhaps a lack of them. A boy who helps himself to understand things and who at such a young age teaches himself ‘the identity of things’. Pip because of years of imagining his parents appearance derived purely from their tombstones demonstrates to me that he is a very observant, optimistic boy that has a run away imagination. His emptiness and loneliness is brought to light when he is described sitting looking at his parents tombstones and talking of his sister who is his only relation to him yet not in a very close relationship with him.
Also his naivety is brought to our attention when he speaks of his mother as ‘Also Georgina wife of the above’ these important details of his personality are accentuated when he meets a crucial character Miss Havisham. A mature women with ‘sick fancies’ that appeals to Pip as ‘… the strangest lady I have ever seen or shall ever see. ‘ Pips vivid description of Miss Havisham’s house portrays an image familiar to an image introduced at the beginning of the novel. Everything he explains seems to be trapped and unable to break free.
This is an instant connection between Pip and the character we are yet to meet, Miss Havisham. Pips repetition of things that were barred stresses the relevance to the character and mood of his surroundings begin to give us an idea of Miss Havisham’s personality and out look on life. Once Pip has entered the house and the ‘Dressing-room’ as he sees it, he meets Miss Havisham for the first time. He looks around in way a camera does, panning similarly to the way he does at the beginning of the book when describing the marsh lands. A description is given of many objects that seem to be in suspended animation.
Pip tells the reader that all the clocks and watches have stopped at twenty minutes to nine, he also repeats the quote ‘… once white, now yellow… ‘ several times and this shows us that everything in that room has be kept for a long time as thought they would never age. Miss Havisham is described as a ‘… waxwork and skeleton… ‘ that ‘… seemed to have dark eyes. ‘ Such a strange women would not be expected to have a child but she does, her adopted daughter full of young beauty is Estella, a child the same age as Pip yet full of such disdain for him.
The way she insists on calling Pip by the offensive term ‘boy’ demonstrates that she feels she deserves to have power over him. This is constantly presented to us in the text when Estella is playing cards and exclaims that Pip calls the knaves jacks and again she ends the sentence by calling him ‘Boy! ‘. Pip describes the time Estella wins the cards and she throws them down ‘… as if she being despised them for having them being won of me… ‘ . It seems that Estella takes joy in making Pip feel bad about himself and his appearance.
This is brought to our attention later when Pip has been crying and Estella makes fun of him. Miss Havisham is perfectly aware of Estella’s rudeness towards Pip yet she makes no comment o Estella to stop it. To entertain Miss Havisham Estella is asked to play cards with Pip. This part of the novel helps us to learn more of Estella’s feelings toward Pip and to understand Miss Havisham’s peculiar fancies. When Estella complains that she has to play with a boy that she feels is below her, Miss Havisham reply’s in such a peculiar way Pip almost doesn’t belief what he heard.
Miss Havishams reply was ‘Well? You can break his heart. ‘ Such a comment can only mean that Miss Havisham has buried feelings about the male sex. When you read the text you can see that everything has stopped at a certain time even she has stopped dressing at a certain time. She has bridal flowers in her hair and is wearing a bridal dress which once I’m sure was fitted to perfection on her young body. Everything that was white is now yellow with age, Miss Havisham has not wished to clean any of her personal belongings, she has kept everything in exact positions.
In the text later when she is talking to Estella she picks up a broche and places it against her, when she has finished she puts it back in the exact same place. This demonstrates her need for familiarity in her life and the strong want to keep everything in the same place as though it will keep time in that same place. Sadly we all know that time moves on and soon Pip leaves and his visits become regular until Miss Havisham helps him to become a blacksmiths assistant and he begins to work with his sisters husband Mr. Joe Gargery the blacksmith.
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