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Show How the Opening Chapter of "great Expectations" by Charles Dickens Is Effective in Arousing the Interest of the Reader

Essay by review  •  November 18, 2010  •  Essay  •  1,536 Words (7 Pages)  •  1,351 Views

Essay Preview: Show How the Opening Chapter of "great Expectations" by Charles Dickens Is Effective in Arousing the Interest of the Reader

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During his early childhood Charles Dickens travelled Great Britain due to his father's job. H lived in mainly coastal towns as his father was a naval clerk and therefore became familiar with the scenes reflected in Great Expectations. Dickens has used memorable scenes and characters from his childhood; the marshes representing one of his youth time homes and many of the characters being written in the reflections of family members. Great Expectations seems to have been produced using the memories of Dickens' life. When he was younger his whole family was imprisoned for debt except for Charles; he was old enough to get a job in a blacking factory. Pip may be an image of Dickens because he too was left by his family as they all passed away when he was very young. Pip's family was also large just like Dickens': there were eight children in Dickens' family and seven in Pip's. If anybody wanted a depiction of what Dickens' life was like then they may well read this novel as it represents what life was like living in Dickens' time so much better than facts and figures would. The novel resembles Dickens' life in so many more ways as well. From background reading I know that Mrs Joe Gargery was written in the image of Dickens' mother. Mrs Gargery has had to be a mother figure for Pip since he was a young boy. She appears strict and quite harsh on Pip.

From the beginning, Pip appears to be childlike. He is still calling himself "Pip" which is all that his "infant tongue could make of" his two names Phillip Pirrip. This makes Pip appear naпve or simple because he hasn't yet grown up to be called his proper name of Phillip. The naivety of Pip seems to be a running theme through this extract. The way he determined the characters of his deceased parents and siblings from their tombstones is immature. The reasons for this may be because Pip had no-one around his age to grow up with and so has been kept as a child by the over-powering presence of his sister and the playful antics of his brother-in-law. Soon sympathy for Pip develops as he seems helpless. He has gone to visit his parents, maybe in the hope to feel close to them, yet he is left alone and feels isolated. Pips isolation and vulnerability is revealed when he describes himself as "bundle of shivers". These three words produce powerful emotions, for me, because I would associate them with something as defenceless as a puppy or a kitten.

As soon as Magwitch appears Pip is frightened of him. When Magwitch threatens him he starts to plead "in terror". His dialogue is pleading and he "prays". This makes it seem as though in times of desperation, Pip's faith is still strong. This is representative of the time as most people were God-fearing and regularly attended church. Sympathy soon develops for Pip because he has this intimidating man bearing down upon him, threatening to eat him. The sympathy soon turns into empathy because Pip describes himself as "undersized" and "not strong". These two adjectives make Pip appear even more at risk than before.

Although Pip may be scared he is still able to negotiate with Magwitch. This may show great maturity on Pip's behalf because he is not so frightened that he is unable to think straight. This developed attitude is displayed when Magwitch is threatening Pip. Pip specifically says "If you would let me sit straight...perhaps I could attend more". This shows great braveness because Pip has negotiated with Magwitch instead of showing fear.

Even though Magwitch is hostile towards Pip, Pip is still as respectful as he would be towards other adults. He continues to call him "Sir" all the time that Magwitch is bullying him. This shows that even though Pip shows maturity he may still be scared. This shows that he is still childlike.

His childish attitude is again displayed when he is threatened with the young man. This shows childishness because it seems impossible that this young man could be real because of the threats made about him. His naivety is portrayed when he engages with the cattle. This is a childish thing to do and may encourage the ideas that Pip doesn't really have any friends instead he has animals as friends. He may believe that the cattle actually think that Magwitch was the "pirate come to life". This is an immature prospect because the cattle wouldn't actually know about pirates or their executions.

Pip also appears to have a very morbid imagination. He thinks that the "dead hands are reaching out" of the graves. Also that the dead pirate is going back to where he was killed. These morbid thoughts may be due to the fact that most of his family died before he could remember them and he has had to live his whole life visiting their graves.

Another main theme, apart from Pip's naivety, is of Magwitch being menacing towards Pip. He threatens by being able to overpower him. This is shown when his eyes are described as "powerfully". This personification suggests that even though his eyes aren't actually able to overpower they have the force and power to do so. This makes Magwitch appear strong and intimidating. He also combines words with actions to intimidate Pip. While he says "what fat cheeks you ha' got" he licks his lips. This would appear threatening because it 's as though he was seriously thinking about devouring him.

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