How does Dickens Create Characters and Settings that are Both Memorable and Striking Essay Sample

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When Dickens is writing, he writes in the way that you would hear it being spoken in real life. He describes Magwitch’s appearance in the sort of language as the sort of person he appears at first sight. He is described as having an iron on his leg. I think that this would make pip scared as he would realize that he was probably an escaped convict. He seems to have a speech impediment as he can not pronounce the letter v, we see this when he tries to say “Vittles” however he says “whittles”. This way of writing is called phonetic. The descriptions of the setting where we first see Magwitch are very bleak and depressing.

The fact that is in an empty grave yard, early in the morning. When Dickens describes the marshes he uses alliteration when he says “low, leaden sky”. It makes us think of a dark, dismal landscape, “overgrown with nettles”. The fact that it is not completely serious is when Magwitch asks where pips parents are, when pip points towards the gravestones behind him, Magwitch does a kind of comedic jump and whirls around to run, when he see no one, he checks with pip and finds that he was actually pointing to a gravestone. Very aggressive and wants to be sure that pip will not tell anyone of the fact that he has seen him.

Miss Havisham

In great expectations, Miss Havisham is a very strange lady who has not seen the daylight for a very long time. She is described as having the appearance of a waxwork skeleton, “Now waxwork skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me”. I think that this is a very effective description because it tells us that she is shriveled and ugly, just as we would imagine. She speaks like quite an up market lady but I think that she speaks down to Pip like when she says “Come nearer; let me look at you. Come close”. I think that she does this because e is very much of a lower class and is also male and we think that she has a grudge against males as she was stood up at the altar. However when she speaks to Estella she seems to be quite harsh for example when she says “Beggar him”. I think that she says this as if she was angry with Estella.

I think that the setting is very good as it is all dark with the windows covered. She uses the imperative when she orders Pip to “play!” I think that she does this because, being rich and Pip being poor she thinks that she is better then him. It is also to do with the fact that Pip is a child and Miss Havisham is an adult. . She tells him to play with a very impatient air. She says “…I have a sick fancy to see someone play. There, there…Play, play, play”. She expects people to do whatever she says when she says and without question”. She gets people to do things for her. We see this when she says to Pip “Call Estella” I, again, think that this is because she thinks that she is better than him and also an adult and he is a child. While he is at Miss Havishams house, he is treats with a great disdain because he is lower class. For example when Miss Havisham tells Estella to play cards with him she says “With this boy! Why, he is a common laboring boy”. This is all to do with the class system of the time. I think that with pip narrating we get a better understanding of how he felt at those times and makes it seem more realistic.


Pip is a young boy who has no parents. I think that we feel a great amount of sympathy for pip when we first see him because he is all alone in a grave yard. In Victorian times, it was much more common for lots of people to die because there were lots more diseases and not very much medical help. One day whilst tending to his parents graves, he is attacked by a convict and, quite understandably, is very scared. When the convict threatens to cut his throat, he screams “Oh! Don’t cut my throat, sir, pray don’t do it, sir”. He is very scared and you can tell this from the way he speaks. When he asks his name he replies very timidly “Pip, sir”. The convict asks him to say it again, Pip replies with “Pip, Pip sir” we can also see that he is nervous here because he stutters and falters. He is asked where his parents are and when he points over the old convicts shoulder, the convict jumps and spins around with a kind of comedic air. I think that the whole experience is made scarier for Pip by the fact that he is in a dark graveyard.

This also makes the scene very much more atmospheric. Pip is turned upside down and told to get vittles and a file. After each question he is tilted more and more. When he says that he knows what is what, pip says to the convict “If you would kindly please to let me keep upright, sir, perhaps I shouldn’t be sick, and perhaps I could attend more.” I think that he says this because he is getting dizzy and is becoming sick, which is making him lose focus and he does not want to do the wrong thing because he is scared that the convict would cut out his heart and liver. Most of his family is dead because In chapter 8 when he meets Miss Havisham for the first time he is scared. He is referred to as “a common laboring boy” and sometimes just “boy”. He is afraid to tell Miss Havisham what he really thinks of her appearance as he does not want to get into trouble with his sister. She asks him “are you afraid of a woman who has not seen the light of the sun since you were born”. I think that he does not tell the truth because he is scared that she will tell his sister.

When Miss Havisham orders him to play, he tries to take the role of Mr. Pumblechooks cart but he felt very disconnected with the performance so gave it up as a bad job. Miss Havisham is not very pleased when he stops and so asks him “are you sullen and obstinate” he replies no and says that if she complains about him then he will get into trouble with his sister. This is because his sister wants him to impress a very old and powerful lady so that maybe she will favor them with money. He is ordered to play cards with Estella and when she arrives and is told what she has to do is horrified that she must play cards with “this common laboring boy”. Pip is very embarrassed by this. Pip is even more embarrassed when he calls the knaves, jacks. He is having bitter feeling towards Joe Gargery for bringing him up the way he has, and why he taught him to calls knaves, jacks.

He is constantly insulted and embarrassed when he is there with things like “look at what coarse hands he has” and “what thick boots he has”. When pip is asked what he thinks of Estella, he comments that she is very pretty and very insulting. He also says “I think I should like to go home now.” I think that this is because he is tired of being insulted every which way. He is told to play the game out, and he does so. When he is given some food and drink, Estella places it on the ground at his feet as if he was a dog. Pip gets so upset by this that he kicks away the plates and leans his head against the wall crying. This is because he does not like being treated like a dog. Again, I think that this is made all the more realistic by the fact that pip is telling the story.

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