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 Pir rip. This makes Pip appear na ” ive 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.
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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.
... left Miss Havisham at the altar and got Magwitch a life sentence. Pip learns that Magwitch is still a convict and is being hunted ... final stage, Magwitch finds himself to be impressed with Pip's progress as a gentleman. He reveals to Pip his life story that included ... escaped convict. This criminal threatens Pip and tells him that in order for him to have his life spared, Pip has to bring 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.
However he also seems aware of the power of God. Even though he has been in prison he hasn’t lost his faith, maybe fear, in God. He makes Pip swear “Lord strike you dead… .” This would show, that like most people of the time, Magwitch was scared of his life after death even though he wasn’t very saintly in his present life. Nevertheless, Magwitch also appears to lacks feeling. It’s as though all the years in prison have made him void of all emotions.
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This is shown when he disregards the tombstones and blatantly walks over people’s graves. He also plays upon Pip’s naivety. He terrorists him with the threats of the young man and when he realise’s that it’s working he continues to describe the terrible young man. This may make Magwitch appear weak because he is harassing a small boy who can’t defend himself He also seems anxious around adults, it is as though he can only feel power over small individuals. This idea is displayed when Pip shows Magwitch where his mother is, the grave anyhow.
Magwitch then “made a short run” as though he was scared of being caught, even by a woman. There is also an air of mystery surrounding Magwitch. It doesn’t say why he has been imprisoned and this may want he reader to continue through the novel to see if they discover why he was jailed. Magwitch’s feebleness is again revealed at the end of the passage. He walks away and “hugged his shivering body.” This may mean that Magwitch is searching for comfort. Maybe he misses a mother figure and has grown up alone and friendless.
Overall the mood in the opening chapter of Great Expectations is sombre. The fact that it is set in a graveyard helps to reinforce these feelings. Pathetic fallacy is used and the weather represents Pips feelings. The clouds are dark and may symbolism the emotions running through Pip as he visits his family. There is also a lack of comfort in the air. The afternoon is described as “raw.” Connotations of which can be cold and bitterness.
These would want to make the reader maintain reading because they may want to know why this type of afternoon was used in this situation. There is also a feeling of tension because in the beginning the afternoon was described as “memorable.” The reader may be asking questions such as why is it memorable. They may want to know what happens that makes this afternoon stick in Pips mind for the rest of his life. There are plenty of adjectives and verbs used to describe the marshes such as “baron.” This creates a feeling that the marshes are derelict.
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These ideas may create a feeling of nervousness because surely there would be at least one person out there, somewhere. Its as though something terrible is going to happen and everyone has shied away from it, except Pip. He has been left alone in this “savage lair” alone. The marshes appear vicious and no place for a child so why did Dickens decide to put him here on his own? What is going to happen to him? There are other things which make it seem dangerous. The sky has become “angry red lines.” This is a harsh colour, the colour of hell. What is going to happen that may represent the need for the colours of such a hostile, unforgiving place? All these factors may make readers want to persist with the prose because they may feel the need to find out what is going to happen to Pip that all the above setting images suggest.
They made provide ideas to explain why Dickens chose to create the powerful images that he did.