In this essay I am going to compare the differences and similarities between, the opening chapter of a nineteenth century novel called ‘Great Expectations’ written by Charles Dickens, and a modern short story called ‘The Darkness Out There’ written by Penelope Lively. Great Expectations is a child-hood memory, told by an adult. The story is about a young orphan called Pip, who lived with his sister, and his brother in law who is the town’s blacksmith.
Pip does a good deed one night for a convict who has escaped prison. This is not mentioned after a while in the story. Pip then finds out that he has a benefactor who has left him a large sum of money to live with in the capital city, London. Pip wished to be a gentlemen when he was young, the benefactor helped make this wish come true. Whilst living in London Pip begins to forget his roots and look down upon people who are of lower status to him. Later on in the novel Pip discovers that his secret benefactor is the convict he helped when he was a youth.
The Darkness Out There is about a young girl called Sandra who has high hopes for her future; in the story Sandra joins a club, which helps the elderly in her community. She and another boy meet an old woman called Mrs. Rutter who lives in a small cottage near a place called; Packers End. In the story Sandra finds out many things about Mrs. Rutter, which is in contrast to her outward appearance. In the story Sandra and her friend discovers many secrets about her life as a young woman during the war. Sandra later teaches herself a lesson; not to judge people by their appearance or how they treat you.
The setting in the opening paragraphs of Great Expectations is in a graveyard; “bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard” it is a dark and isolated flat wilderness. The setting reflects how Pip is feeling; he is very cold and in a highly emotional state. “And that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.”
The story The Darkness Out There opens with a sunny pleasant setting; “she walked through flowers, the girl, ox-eye daises and vetch and cow parsley, keeping to the track at the sedge of the field”, this is in contrast to the title, which involves darkness. Packers End, is where most of is told, is also in contrast to the bright sunny opening setting; “The dark reach of spinney came right to the gate there so that she would have to walk by the edge…” Sandra is afraid of Packers End; “You didn’t go by yourself through Packer’s End if you could help it, not after tea-time, anyway.” Many rumours were told about Packers End. When Sandra was young she believed that “Witches and wolves and tigers. Sometimes they’d go there for a dare.” As a child she grew afraid of Packers End. As she got older the rumours changed to ghosts of German pilots who were left there to die! “She wouldn’t go there for a thousand pounds.”
Pip is a young orphan who is living with his sister and brother-in-law; both his parents have died they died was Pip was a very young child. We know this because Pip does not know what his parents look like so he constantly visits their graves. His sister does not speak about their parents, maybe because she thinks he is too young. Pip is in search of his identity. Pip was small for his age; “though I was at that time under-sized, for my years, and not strong.” When Pip is in the graveyard he feels like as if he is spiritually with his entire family; which is maybe why he is at the graveyard a lot, but knowing they have passed away.
Pip has a very vast or vivid imagination; we know this when he tries to picture his parents by looking at the way the names are carved out on the gravestones. To show that he gave a lot of respect to his elders, he spoke to the convict using the word sir. Pip was a brave character, because he keeps his word with the convict and also swears an oath. In the opening paragraphs Pip was very vulnerable “the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.”
The convicts’ character is very aggressive; his opening line is a command. “Hold your noise! Cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among the graves at the side of the church porch.” He was also in hiding before he made his appearance; he could have been watching him all along! The convict also threatens him, “keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throat!” He continues to talk aggressively. The convict has continuously threatened Pip but has never harmed him.
Then later on he learns that Pip has no parents. Pip is very little compared to the convict. Near the end the convicts finds out that Pip’s brother-in-law is the village blacksmith, so he orders Pip to get him some food (wittles) and a file he intimidated him to do so by tilting him after each command and then at the end he threatened him by saying; “Or I’ll have your heart and liver out.” The convict reinforces his threats by involving another man which he says is worse than him, he says that he is finding it difficult from keeping the man away from Pip. Near the end of the novel we find out the Pip’s benefactor is the convict himself.