We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens and “Kestrel for a Knave” by Barry Hines Essay Sample

  • Pages: 5
  • Word count: 1,292
  • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
  • Category: stories

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

Introduction of TOPIC

We have been analysing two stories, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Kestrel for a Knave by Barry Hines. There is a tremendous contrast between them in the way that the main character is portrayed to create sympathy.


In Great expectations the opening chapter is a particular day when something very specific and important happens to Pip. This sets off the whole plot of the story. The convict, Abel Magwitch is portrayed as very petrifying in the opening scene but he is renowned to be the person who funded Pip’s rise later in the story. From the opening chapter of Kestrel for a Knave the story is a day exactly like any other in the life of Billy. This evolves into the plot when other events take place that don’t happen everyday.


Great Expectations is set in the countryside on a cold and bleak November afternoon. The opening chapter is set in a mysterious, damp and eerie graveyard with marshy surroundings. Dickens describes this as a ‘bleak place overgrown with nettles’ and the surroundings are described as a ‘dark flat wilderness’. This description of Pip’s surroundings creates a lot of sympathy for him, as a young boy of his age should not be wondering around graveyards. Having the graveyard as a setting also establishes the fact that Pip is an orphan as all his family are dead thus creating more sympathy. Quotations like ‘As I never saw my mother or father’ outline this. Kestrel for a knave is set in an urban area in a drab, cold council house bedroom. The setting is probably in the North as some of the language indicates this-‘go on, thar up’ and ‘switch t’light out then’ Hines pays attention to detail, which outlines the fact that Billy is poverty-stricken.’ Inside the bedroom the darkness was of a gritty texture’.


Pip is an innocent, young orphan. In the first chapter he encounters Abel Magwitch which was a horrific experience that stays with him for life. Abel Magwitch is an escaped convict that Dickens describes as ‘a fearful man’ and ‘a man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head’. From this description the reader can verify that this character is bad. This makes Pip seem very vulnerable and insecure. Pips conflict with this old, disreputable terrifying character creates a good Vs evil situation that makes the audience take pity on Pip. Billy from Kestrel for a Knave is an adolescent, fatherless boy. He is used to the tough struggle of life, which is reflected in his personality. He is very streetwise and has no respect for authority as he steals a bottle of orange juice and a carton of eggs effortlessly. Billy’s brother, Jud gives him a hard time speaking harshly to h

im and hitting him. An example of this is when Jud says ‘think I don’t know?’ very

Sorry, but full essay samples are available only for registered users

Choose a Membership Plan
aggressively and the later tells Billy to ‘shut it’ then swings his fist under the blankets and thumps Billy in the kidneys. This makes the reader feel sorry for Billy because of what he has to put up with everyday.


Great Expectations is first person narrative. I think Dickens did this because it gives an overwhelming power of experience and reality. Dickens writes in long complex sentences that are descriptive with a careful use of punctuation-‘the marshes were just a long black horizontal line then, as I stopped to look after him; and the river was just another horizontal line, not nearly so broad nor yet so black; and the sky was just a row of long angry red lines with dense black lines intermixed.’ This gives the impression of him writing in character to a certain extent. Some of the language is more difficult to read in Great Expectations because some words have disappeared from common use like ‘lozenge’ being a tombstone and ‘wittles’ being food.

These words have evolved in language today so it is harder to read. Another reason for this use of language could be that the character Abel Magwitch has a slight cockney accent with mispronunciation of words. ‘Wittles’ could be a mispronunciation of ‘vichials’ that in the time when the story was written would mean food. Hines has a different writing style to Dickens but still manages to create the same effects. Kestrel for a Knave is written third person narrative. The reality of Billy’s feelings is slightly weaker as it is not Billy telling the story. Hines uses more simpler and modern language writing in basic, simple sentences-‘Billy turned over.’ And ‘Jud followed him and cough-coughed into his neck.’ As Kestrel for a knave is probably set somewhere in the North there is a lot of slang examples of this are; ‘bloody’ and ‘shut it’.


In Great Expectations there is quite a sombre sorrowful atmosphere at the beginning that creates a lot of sympathy. Later in the first chapter fear and apprehension overcome this but sympathy is still present through out but for a different reason. The way Dickens presents the character Abel Magwitch makes the reader feel compatible to Pip, as it is a very frightening experience for him. In Kestrel for a knave Hine’s concentrates on keeping the atmosphere depressing and dismal by focusing on Billy’s surroundings and actions. This creates sympathy for him, as he has to endure a grim life. Both stories contain some subtle humour, which lightens the mood slightly in places. In Great Expectations Abel Magwitch implies that he would like to eat Pip to frighten him when he says ‘You young dog’ he said licking his lips, ‘what fat cheeks you ha’ got.’ There is more humour in Kestrel for a Knave especially at the end of the first chapter when the milkman asks how Billy is and he casually says ‘O, not so bad’ almost sarcastically.

In conclusions I think that both Hines and Dickens have very different writing styles but can still achieve the same effects in creating sympathy for the main characters in their stories by what they say. Individual aspects of the stories are very similar but are presented in slightly different ways. Great Expectations is written by a very well known author and it is a novel that has had much more success than Kestrel for a Knave. I think this is because of the time that it was written. It was written in a time when a majority of people couldn’t read so stories where read to them as a form of entertainment.

This was because there was nothing else to do but read as many things hadn’t been invented. I think this is the main reason that Dickens’ writing style is much more descriptive than Hines’. Great Expectations is first person narrative that gives a power of recalling and reality. Dickens decides to write in character to build more of a relationship between the reader and the main character so it is more realistic to what they are feeling. This presentation of characters in the first chapter can give a more personalised account of Pip’s life. Great Expectations was published in magazines with many issues. It was written in this way to create suspense so the reader would buy the next issue to find out what happens next.

We can write a custom essay on

“Great Expectations” by Charles Dicken ...
According to Your Specific Requirements.

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

The stories of The Great Gatsby

The main characters from the stories of The Great Gatsby, Jay Gatsby and Nelson Mandela as the public figure have similar reliance on each other, yet they are completely different people. Both characters have their own life stories beginning with Nelson Mandela. Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in 1918 in a small village in the southeastern region of South Africa called the Transkei. A member of the African National Congress (ANC) party beginning in the 1940s, he was a leader of both peaceful protests and armed resistance against the white minority's oppressive regime in a racially divided South Africa. He exchanged a diplomatic peace end to apartheid, and as the first president of democratic South Africa addressed - and accomplished - resolution. In this he was great. A healer. An inspiration. One of his negative value he made in his life was being violent. In 1961, he broke with African...

The two stories "Araby" and "Young Goodman...

In Certainty, the two stories "Araby" by James Joyce and "Young Goodman Brown" by Nathaniel Hawthorne are both stories about change. These stories manage the understanding of growing up and recognition of the truth, Joyce shows the maturation of a young boy into a man, while Hawthorne tells about a man who has started realizing the realities about his surroundings and himself, however, change with life of both characters can be seen towards the end of the stories. The stories "Araby" and "Young Goodman Brown" have similar and distinct qualities. The journeys how they both got to point of change, how religion obligates them to make the decision, and anger in both stories is the common ground among the protagonists. The young unnamed boy in the "Araby" portrays his own coming of age, due to strict religious obligations, sexuality was repressed at the time of story. The boy was fascinated...

Critical analysis of the Tell-Tale Heart

The Tell-Tale Heart is a short story written Edgar Allan Poe and was first edited and published in January 1843 by Robert Carver and James Russell Lowell, the proprietors of in the short-lived inaugural issue of The Pioneer: A Literary and Critical Magazine. "The Tell-Tale Heart" is a classic gothic fiction genre and one of Poe’s famous collection of short stories. Edgar Allan Poe highlighted that effective short stories should be read in single sitting and must create a unity of effect on the reader, with no redundant word, as this impression essentially evoke the readers emotions. Poe insisted that. “If his very initial sentence tends not to the outbringing of this effect, then he has failed in his first step.” (Poe, 2014, p. 1). Charles May distinguishes between the novel and the short story by suggesting the while the former ‘exists to reaffirm the world of “everyday” reality; the...

Popular Essays


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?