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How Dickens Creates Tension in Chapter One of “Great Expectations” Essay Sample

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How Dickens Creates Tension in Chapter One of “Great Expectations” Essay Sample

Great Expectations is a novel written by Charles Dickens, one of his purposes was to create tension and suspense throughout the whole novel. Dickens wanted to show that life isn’t always perfect; there are people who suffer heartache. The story could be a representation of how Dickens may have felt as a child and growing up. The novel is based on a small boy called Pip. He never had any memories of his parents as they died when pip was a young child. From the first chapter Pip talks about his parents and how he perceives them to be. Dickens creates tension in many forms: using the language, the environment in which the scene is set and also the through the imagery created due to the description.

The first chapter begins with the description of Pip, a young child who has been bought up by his sister whom he refers to as Mrs Joe Gregory. The way in which Pip refers to his sister, we can tell Pip may not have received love, which all children get from their parents. There may seem to be tension within the family, as Pip doesn’t feel comfortable referring to his sister by her first name, it is very formal. This also shows he may not feel part of that family he may feel neglected and all alone. Pip makes his own identity, as he was not able to pronounce his own name.

Pip is an orphan who visits his parent’s tombstones regularly to find out how they may look and what features he had acquired from them. As it is written in the first person it gets the reader more involved. The novel is from Pips point of view of his life and how he perceives it to be. We sympathise with Pip at this point as he gives us incite on his background of his parents and he shows the great amount of love he had with them even though he doesn’t remember. Dickens wants to show the reader of the difficult time Pip may have had not being brought up in a loving environment. Dicken creates this by writing it in the first person and by setting a quiet, serene atmosphere.

Dickens starts the novel with a short first paragraph describing Pips character which creates great tension for the reader as the first scene is set at a graveyard. He expresses where he may have got his different features from as he stares at his parent’s tombstone day by day. At this point the reader feels great sympathy for Pip as he mentions the word ‘tombstone’, this relates to death which is a terrible thought.

Dickens may have expressed this type of heartache and tension in the novel as this maybe something which happens in many peoples lives. all the theories Pip had come up with about his family although they may have been quite childish and immature the reader can understand from what point of view Pip is looking towards and about his inner emotions. The characters Dickens uses are very complex and so this creates tension from the very beginning.


– Pirrip is pips real name. Could only call him pip, as he couldn’t pronounce his actual name.

– Orphan child

– Parents are dead, never met them. He has his own image of his parents.

– A lot easier to understand as he is talking in the first person. Reader becomes more involved. His own point of view.

– Getting straight to the point. By discussing his name he is involving the reader in to his life and his background. We get some incite on his parents.

– He is creating his own identity as he chose his own name. Was not able to say his own name.

– Discuss the structure of the novel. Why is the first paragraph really short?

– He wants to show his identity and his name and how he came about.

– He tries to visualise his parents from the tombstone. Makes the reader sympathise towards pip.

– He refers to his sister as Mrs Joe Gargery.perhaps he doesn’t regard her as family.

– Contrasting with his family name. He sees himself as different from his sister. As the sister has a different name and has a title (Mrs).

– His first visions regarding what they were like were not realistic. As he learnt from the parents tombstones. He has no memories or other people’s memories, this is seen as morbid. Or photographs just tombstones. Guess what his parents were like.

– Author is trying to make us feel sympathy. The tombstone was eroded. Dark not shiny.

– The setting reveals how it may have bin for pip growing up. The character helps to reveal the more about the setting.

– Even thought it was childish conclusion, we can understand as a reader why he drew these conclusions.

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