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How Does Charles Dickens Make the the First Chapter of Great Expectations Effective? Essay Sample

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How Does Charles Dickens Make the the First Chapter of Great Expectations Effective? Essay Sample

The first scene in the novel is set in an “overgrown” graveyard which creates a miserable atmosphere. We know pip has never seen his parents before they died “never saw” so he makes absurd descriptions of them “unreasonably derived”, this creates a sympathy for pip as he knows that its stupid but its the only way he can imagine his parents “square, stout, dark man”. The author does this to show how neglected pip is. We learn that Pip is happy to be in this graveyard as he refers to the tombstones there as “my tombstones”. He uses this possessive language to show that he feels comfortable there and this gives the reader an empathetic reaction. Dickens then creates more sorrow by saying “five little stone lozenges”. This shows that not only did he lose his parents but he also lost his brothers and sisters, this makes us symathize with pip even more.

In the second paragraph the author uses words like “gloomy” and “raw” to create a bleak atmosphere. Moreover the author writes “the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing”. These words used in this paragraph symbolize pip’s feeling and foreshadow the upcoming events which make the reader apprehensive. The reader learns from the fist two paragraphs that pip has had a horrible time so far and the fact that he lives in poverty does not help.

The third paragraph starts with “hold your noise”. At this point magwitch has got hold of pip and is threatening him “cut your throat”. The description of Magwitch suggests he is a prisoner and has broken out “great iron on his leg”. The tension then escalates as the reader realises that the man is a convict and serious harm could be done to pip. As the convict inflicts fear and intimidates pip he pleads “don’t do it sir”. The word “sir” expresses that he is a vulnerable person as he does not retaliate and shows self restraint. The scene is purposely shown in graveyard so that it can be used in juxtaposition to the way Magwitch treats pip. By using this stylistic technique it creates a sense of commiseration for pip.

The author writes that Magwitch has “limped and shivered” to get here. These words emphasize how much Magwitch has worked to get here and this creates tension. Also when Magwitch asks him who he lives looks after him he refers to his sister as “Mrs. Joe Gargery”. By calling his sister by her formal name it suggests that he is not very close to his sister, this scene in the novel creates an antagonistic repulsion between the two characters in the reader mind. This is because the reader inevitably has a sorrowful reaction to pip as we learn that he lives independently with no motherly affection and no support from his sister. But on the other hand the reader has an abhorrent reaction to Magwitch as he intimidates an impecunious boy how has no family.

When Magwitch asks pip where is his mother is, pip replies “there sir”, Magwitch starts to run “short run”. This scene creates a strong sense of dramatic irony as we have the perception that Magwitch is a convict and won’t think twice about killing someone but yet he’s frightened when pip mentions his mother. At this scene the readers emotions intertwine and this increases the tension as it causes confusion in the readers mind whether or not Magwitch will kill pip.

Charles dickens uses a retrospective way of narrating the story. The first part of the play is narrated by the narrator who is the adult pip. He looks back and tells the reader the story. However as we read on dickens changes the narrator to a lonely and startled boy named pip “please, sir”. By doing this dickens creates more tension and sympathy for pip as we really see what he went through.

Remembering the early scenes in the play, we are again reminded of this irony. As Magwitch walks away the author describes him in conjunction to an old man. “Limped towards the low church wall”. This line is again ironic as this convict who is portrayed as a murderer is know portrayed as an old man. The author does this to increase the tension as the reader is now sceptical as to what will happen next.

In conclusion to this we learn that Charles dickens creates a bleak atmosphere to draw the reader’s attention. We also learn that he uses very simple and unappealing language such as “dark” and “overgrown”. These words are contradictory to the title “great expectations”. Charles dickens purposely does this to create a trepidations feeling in the reader. The common theme in this novel is the use of analogical ways to describe the feelings of characters and the use of irony to create tension.

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