In his novel, Great Expectations, Dickens creates characters that are both memorable and striking by using many techniques, including the writer’s toolbox. The characters I found to be the most memorable and striking are Pip, Miss Havisham and Magwitch. Dickens portrays them by using some of the following techniques; setting, characterisation, dialogue, narrative, mood, etc.
Pip is the first character that I have chosen. All the way through the novel, Pip comes across as a young, weak, orphan boy. We find out a lot about his past, including information about his family. The text states: “…and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine.” The text also states: “The shape of the letters on my father’s grave” and “Also Georgina, Wife of the above.” All of this evidence lets us know that Pip’s parents and siblings are dead, and makes the reader feel sympathy for Pip.
The novel is written in first person. This creates a personal opinion of what Pip thinks throughout the story. For example, when the text states: “I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.” This particular piece of evidence backs up my statement about Pip’s opinions/thoughts being brought into the novel. The use of the words “my” and “I” are evidence that the novel is written in first person.
We know that the whole situation that Pip has never seen his parents is true, as the text states: “I never saw my father or my mother,” and we also know that Pip disliked his parents, as the text also states: “…and never say any likeness of either of them.” Again, this evidence is making the reader feel sympathy for Pip. This is how people remember him and how he becomes so striking – the whole sympathy situation.
Another way that Dickens makes Pip memorable and striking is by the mood that he creates, using the character of Pip. At the end of extract two, there is a very emotional mood created. In the last two paragraphs, Dickens has shown Pip’s weaker side and the way Estella treats Pip at the end of the extract makes the reader think that Pip is too weak to stand up to Estella. However, Pip changes the reader’s opinion when he doesn’t cry in front of Estella. The evidence to support this is when the text says: “This gave me power to keep them back and look at her.” This is said by Pip and when he says “he held them back,” he is referring to the tears. This proves that Pip has a stronger side and that he is determined not to show Estella that she has upset him. We know that Estella was trying to upset Pip because of the evidence, which is: “The moment they sprang there, the girl looked at me with a quick delight in having been the cause of them.”
Another example of how Pip is so memorable and striking is in extract three. Pip obeys Wemmick, even though he hardly knows him. The evidence to support my statement is when Wemmick says to Pip: “Nod away at him, Mr Pip, that’s what he likes. Nod away at him…”Pip does exactly what Wemmick tells him to do. So, the reader has mixed, confused feelings about Pip because although Pip obeys Wemmick, he is not afraid of him. There is evidence, for example, when Pip asks: “Is it your own, Mr Wemmick?” Therefore, the reader knows that Pip is confident to talk to Wemmick, but also that Pip is quiet and at certain times, weak.
Pip is both memorable and striking also because of his actions during the novel and the dialogue used. Dickens has used certain events from the novel to bring out Pip’s strengths and weaknesses.
Miss Havisham is another memorable and striking character created by Dickens. The sentence types she uses in her dialogue within the novel create Miss Havisham’s character. She uses questions, for example: “Do you know what I touch here?” She also uses exclamation (“Broken!”), statements (“I am tired”), and finally commands when she tells Pip: “Come nearer.” All of the different sentence types and dialogue used by Miss Havisham creates her character as an old woman with a difficult past life. Also, the tone of voice used by her is strange. She seems very harsh/stern towards Pip, which makes the reader think of her as a grumpy, old woman.
Dickens also makes Miss Havisham’s character striking by conveying the way she speaks, using words such as “muttered.” This word implies that she says something that she doesn’t want Pip to hear. Miss Havisham is not afraid to state her opinion.
The reader may also remember Miss Havisham and think she is striking due to her appearance. We know that her appearance is strange because the text states: “…sat the strangest lady I have ever seen, or shall ever see.”
The description of Miss Havisham makes her character even more memorable because she is dressed in bridal wear. Usually, people would expect brides to look beautiful, elegant and stunning. But Miss Havisham is very different. In the novel, it states: “…and had lost its lustre, and was faded and yellow.” This describes Miss Havisham’s dress. The text also says: “I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress.” A final piece of evidence is: “…and that the figure upon which it now hung loose, had shrunk to skin and bone.” This particular piece of evidence is referring to Miss Havisham and proves that she is old and wrinkly, like a typical old woman.
The setting/atmosphere that Miss Havisham is in seems to have stopped in the past. The text states: “…and saw that her watch had stopped at twenty minutes to nine.” Miss Havisham is obviously living in the past. The text says: “You are not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?” This is a question that Miss Havisham asks Pip. She has been stuck in the same place, time and situation for a long time.
Miss Havisham’s character is made striking using her dialogue, but mainly using the setting and how she looks.
The final character I have found to be the most memorable and striking is Magwitch. The description of him in the novel makes him very striking and certainly memorable. The text states: “…a fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg.” The iron on his leg suggests that he is a convict that has escaped from prison and is on the run.
Magwitch is definitely made memorable by his appearance. There is a short paragraph, which is totally focused on Magwitch’s appearance, which makes him very striking. The reader knows that Magwitch is strong, yet hungry because the text states: “…for he was so sudden and strange” and “he ate the bread ravenously.
Magwitch comes across as quite a rough, unfriendly, threatening character because of the way he speaks. For example, when he says: “Now then, lookee here!” This shows that Magwitch has a very common way of speaking. The way the words are written are exactly how they are spoken, for example the word: “partickler” means “particular”.
Magwitch is a threatening character as well. In the text, he says: “Or I’ll have your heart and liver out!” This is aimed at Pip and is very threatening.
We can also tell that Magwitch dislikes having the iron on his leg because the evidence from the text says: “…after darkly looking at his leg.”
However, there is also a weaker side to Magwitch and this is another feature that makes him so memorable and striking. The text says: “…clasping himself, as if to hold himself together.” This creates a sympathetic side for Magwitch.
A way that Dickens makes all three characters memorable and striking is by using a large amount of descriptive writing and punctuation. He describes characters using whole paragraphs to build up a large amount of description.