The novel as a whole Essay
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This underlines where the stress in the sentence is and thus its emotions. This is used to great effect with a more dramatic description in ‘It was wretched weather; stormy and wet, stormy and wet; mud, mud, mud deep in all the streets’. It is hard not to associate this dramatic use of language with his consciousness and intensified state of emotion thus allowing us to see how Pip feels by using indirect methods. Plus we see that it is a way the older Pip can convey the forbidding nature of the event unfolding.
of stormy weather is an obvious precursor of events to come, but it works well setting the reader for a theatrical recountment of events. Another typical feature of Dickens is to personify an object. For example ‘the smoke came rolling down the chimney as though it could not bear to go out into such a night’. Hence the gloomy use of the elemental weather is made even more imposing, and in this case makes the atmosphere seems primitive – excellent weather for the return of the Magwitch who Pip first met on the untamed marshes.
The use of weather with reference to the sea is made good use of in: ‘gloomy accounts had come in from the coast, of shipwreck and death’, and the wind being like ‘the discharges of cannon, or breakings of the sea’. With hindsight these are clear references to Magwitch – his time on the sea in the ‘hulks’ and the cannon remind us of that used in chapter two on the marshes to alert people to convicts. Also, the stormy rain is an omen of Magwitch’s water-death struggle in the Thames. But as a first time reader these references only make subconscious links, so that their significance slowly dawns on the reader.
The description of the weather is so terrifyingly dramatic that it is chilling and almost supernatural; one could say that when Pip first saw Magwitch it was so traumatic that he tried to bury the experience. The pressure of the hidden memories of Magwitch deep in his subconscious have built up so much that he has managed to bring about Magwitch’s return. Of course the fact that Pip’s benefactor is revealed to be Magwitch is clear that Pip’s great expectations are at an end as he can not keep the money and he isn’t intended to marry Estella.
This emotional upheaval in Pip’s life is magnificently portrayed in the narrative description of the weather leading up to Magwitch’s return. Dickens personal style is clearly evident in the passage describing the stranger on the stair: ‘… that he had long iron-grey hair. That his age was about sixty. That he was a muscular man, strong on his legs, and that he was browned and hardened… ‘ Dickens has repeated ‘that’ so as to create a list, that focuses more on the detail, yet at the same time creates purpose and a gradual realisation of who the man is.
Even though this use of language is not correct grammatically it conveys the point that Pip knows who it is but only just below his level of consciousness. The first person narrative makes a competition between the reader and Young Pip to recognise who the stranger is first, from the subtle and elusive hints of the identity of the stranger scattered throughout the passage. The footstep on the stair reminds Pip of his dead sister who like Magwitch is a ghost from the past.
Incidentally, this connection between his sister also reminds the reader and probably young Pip of the guilt he felt over his sister’s beating, and hence the guilt over his stealing to help Magwitch. Pip ‘heard the footstep stumble in coming on’ which one would have done if it was a criminal wearing leg irons, that which haunted Pip the chapter FIND OUT e. g. (QUOTE). Towards the point where we finally find out who the newcomer is, the hints become more obvious with his clothes resembling ‘a voyager by sea’ and his hair being ‘iron grey’ like this leg-irons.
Only moments before it begins to sink in who the stranger we are told of Pip’s lamp: ‘it was a shaded lamp, to shine upon a book, and its circle of light was very contracted; so that he was in it for a mere instant, and then out of it’. The light is ‘contracted’ like Pip’s view on life with his misconception of Miss Havisham as the source of his becoming a gentleman, yet he is slowly grasping the truth (brought by Magwitch) from subtle hints, in the same way the light only illuminates Magwitch for ‘mere incidence’s.
Various references to the absence of light are also made throughout the passage; ‘staircase lamps were blown out’, ‘lamps in the court were blown out’, ‘heavy veil had been driving over London’ and ‘a voice from the darkness’. This is predominantly an effect to make the passage more typically mysterious and gloomy. Less obvious is the connection to Estella. Pip often associated her with fire and light (her name meaning star) and she was frequently responsible for lighting Pip’s way in Satis house (ANY EG), but she is now a lost cause to Pip as it is Magwitch who is responsible for his fortune.
Dickens almost personifies the weather when he writes ‘a vast heavy veil had been driving over London’. This implies that the weather knows the outcome of the building anticipation and that it is mirroring the news to be revealed, which will cause Pip to feel as though a ‘vast heavy veil’ has been drawn across his life. Again we are given a glimpse of something to come but only so much as to push our curiosity more. A further connection to Estella can be made -Magwitch is a dysfunctional father figure to Pip (he refers to Pip as ‘my boy’ and himself as Pip’s ‘second father’).
This creates an ironic parallel with Estella and Miss Havisham, as both children reject their ‘parent’ at some point, and we learn later that that Estella is in fact the daughter of a criminal. Thus ironically Pip and Estella’s status are almost inverted, and it is through this reversal that Pip realises the values of a true gentleman and in time learns to love Magwitch and place himself in hazardous situations for him. Near the end of the passage the first gesture that Magwitch makes is accounted by Pip as Magwitch holding ‘out both his hands to me.
‘ This action seems obscure, even if we have realised who the stranger is. It also creates an air of mystery and suspicion even at this late stage. Also we read that Pip sees the stranger ‘looking up with an incomprehensible air of being touched and pleased by the sight of me’ which contrasts dramatically with the earlier strained and violent nature of the elements. The fact that Magwitch is responsible for Pip’s rise in social status to a gentleman is terribly ironic. Pip is at the height of his immoral conduct due to his uninformed view of what makes a gentleman (appearance, money and mixing with like people i.
e. shunning lower class people such as Joe). In comparison with Magwitch’s humble ‘Master’ references to him, Pip has inadvertently played up to the image of a gentleman that Magwitch has shunned and tried to get revenge at – i. e. Compeyson. The passage is the beginning of Chapter 39 and it is only from this chapter onwards that Pip stops misreading events (for example he finds out who is his benefactor), therefore this chapter is primary in terms of plot development.
Yet, Dickens pays close attention to detail with frequent hints to the theme throughout the passage in subtle references (looked at previously) that sustain the drama and dark, tense atmosphere, all of which contribute to the sense of expectation. By: Chee Date: April 2001 For: Mrs Hill Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Great Expectations section.