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How Does Dickens Engage the Reader in “Great Expectations”? Essay Sample

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Introduction of TOPIC

Dickens uses an extensive variation of techniques to engage the reader. Arguably, unanswered questions are the most effective, however this essay will discuss many other techniques. The title immediately engages the reader as it instantly creates unanswered questions and sets expectations on the part of the reader.

The complex relationships between the characters draws in the reader. The reader becomes emotionally involved with the characters from Pip’s perspective due to the fact it is a first person narrative from Pip’s point of view. A third person narrative usually describes characters in a detached way whereas the first person narrative is more personal as it is the thoughts and feeling of one of the characters in this case Pip. Therefore the reader will experience vicariously Pip’s emotions and feelings as an individual himself and towards other characters. This keeps the reader interested as they empathise and also feel that they are enduring Pip’s hardships.

For example when Estelle repeatedly refers to him as ‘boy’ the reader sympathises with Pip as he feels insulted, and therefore like him, the reader dislikes Estelle. The relationships of his sister and her husband are complex which is refreshing for the reader and therefore the reader finds it interesting and engaging. Although stereotypically his sister is supposed to be kind and helpful to him however she is actually the punishment bearer and the beater quote, this is supposed to be the husband’s role since he is almost a stepfather to Pip, however

they have a relationship of a brother quote and they rarely have secrets. This surprises the reader

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as the role of husband and sister is almost reversed. The contemporary reader would find this even more strange as they strongly believed that the husband was the dominant member of the household whereas the wife took a more subservient role therefore they would be reading the story with more interest as they are interested to see how this dysfunctional family develops.

The structure Dickens uses creates anticipation and suspense to ensure the reader reads on. Originally ‘Great Expectations’ was serialised and two chapters were released at a time. To make sure the next two chapters were purchased Dickens had climatic endings after every two chapters. Once Pip had stolen some food he becomes paranoid which culminates at the end of chapter four he runs “head foremost into a party of soldiers.” This creates suspense for the reader as they are left wondering whether Pip has been caught as they wait for the next instalment of the story. Furthermore Dickens varies his sentence structure in order to create tension and anticipation. For example when beginning chapter three the first sentence Dickens uses “it was a rimy morning and very damp” This is a typical example of his use of short and concise sentences to create dramatic effect as they have impact, and it also quickens the pace of the narrative building tension quote – analyse

Dickens also uses complex sentences quote to decrease the tension, so that when tension is once again created the use of short sentences will have more of an impact on the reader.

The use of comedy and irony provides relief from the tension that is created for example

Dickens also uses unanswered questions to create suspense and interest in the reader so that they continue to read the story as they want to know the answers to these questions. Chapter seven finishes with the intriguing question asked by Pip “what on earth I was expected to play.” As Pip is suddenly and unexpectedly invited to play cards by Miss Havisham which creates suspicions as he does not know her and immediately causes the reader to ask questions. However suspense and anticipation is created as these questions are not answered instantly at the beginning of chapter eight instead Dickens gives a long description of the High Street. This ensures that the reader continue to read the book until their questions are answered.

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