Chapter one opens with the introduction of pip the main character and narrator. It also opens by explaining to the reader how he got the name pip.
Dickens speaks to us in the first person because it adds to the effect of that its pips personal view on his life. The effect of this is you feel pity for him, and you feel as if you get to know the character well.
In the first chapter we learn that pip never knew his family and that they are dead, we know this because “as I never saw my father or my mother”. Pip gives the reader an insight into his childish mind. We know this because he talks about his mum and dad from the tombstones “also Georgiana. That’s my mother” he is saying his mums name as it was written on the tombstone.
It makes us feel sorry for pip because he had lost 5 brothers it tells us this “five little brothers of mine-who gave up trying to get a living”. This shows the reader how difficult it was to live; pip has lost his brothers and talks about his family being dead as if he isn’t bothered. Pip is a lonely orphan child; he is really respectful as he is always saying sir to the convict.
Chapter 1 is set in a church yard which is described as a “bleak place overgrown with nettles” This is describing the setting in which he is in. Close to marshy country, near a river, it tells us this “ours was marshy country down by the river” this is describing the background.
The surrounding landscape is described as being dark, neglected and bleak “bleak place overgrown” this is describing the unused grave yard. “Park flat wilderness” these phrases really tell us how bleak and dark it is.
This heightens the mood of it being dark and unused. Pip is an young boy, all alone in a graveyard, it makes the reader think something is going to happen.
Pip reacts to the bleak background and surroundings scared, as it is dark and the surroundings are bleak.
We are prepared for the arrival of the convict because Dickens uses words such as “savage liar” this sounds dark and twisting which suggests danger.
The convict is described as being “a fearful man, all coarse grey” this tells us he is a convict as , they are all in coarse grey, it then goes further into detail describing “the great iron on his leg” it is describing the locks round his ankle. “A man with no hat” all men in those days wore hats. He had “broken shoes” meaning he has no money.
This description reinforced the atmosphere of fear and tension because, pip is a young boy on his own in a black unused churchyard and he has been held by the throat by a man with jail clothes on and chains threatening to cut throat.
The convict turns pip fear into terror threatening to cut his throat, and seizing him by the chin.
The convict makes us believe he can easily overcome pip, be cruel and violent because Dickens uses. Phrases such as “keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throat” This shows he can become cruel, violent easily in a matter of seconds, and is unpredictable.
Dickens lightens the atmosphere in the part of the scene by him saying “what fat cheeks you ha got” we know its not a real threat, its quite a childish treat, the reader knows it isn’t genuine therefore the threat is almost funny, this is how he lightens the atmosphere, also its humorous as pip says “also Georgiana that’s my mother” this is humorous as he uses the exact words of the grave.
The words that show us pip feels pity on the convict are “he looked in my young eyes as if he were eluding the hands of the dead people” this shows the convict is looking at pip as if pip is only hope of getting away, pip realises he’s the convicts last hope.
The convict feels pity for pip we know this as he says “oh!” to Pip when he was talking about his mother this shows he feels sorry for pip as he knows pips lost his mum and dad.
The words and phrases that suggest sadness and darkness are “the marshes were just long black horizontal lines” this suggests they are dark, and go on forever. “Dense black lines” darkness and danger await. Also he feels sadness “just long black horizontal lines” Pip feels sorry for the convict all alone on the marshes.
Pips mind returns to death and fear towards the end of chapter one because of the dark and gloomy atmosphere in which he is in. Dickens uses the words black because it adds the effect of darkness, he says “the hands of the dead people, stretching up cautiously out of their graves” this is deepening pips fear and bring back doom and foreboding.
In conclusion, Dickens creates an atmosphere of fear and tension by using a young boy called Pip and putting it in first person. This means that you get to know the young boy more. Dickens also used dark words like black dark gloomy; this makes the reader feel like there is going to be trouble. Dickens use intense description of the landscape to get the scene.
I think the use of Pip being first person and narrator this most affecting the reader as you feel like you get to know the character better.
From reading the first chapter we learn about Victorian England is that everyone wore hats, if you didn’t wear a hat people will be shocked because it is an insult and all men wore hats. We also learn death is more common and people accepted death. We also know that children had lots of respect for adults, unlike today, if you didn’t show respect you would be punished.
In the first chapter Dickens was trying to get the message of how hard it was for the working class people, He achieved this by using young Pip as an example of a poor boy. The message was for richer people because they would be the ones buying the books; this was to show how poor people actually were.