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Chronological Order & Its Uses in Great Expectations and Huckleberry Finn.

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Chronological Order & Its Uses in Great Expectations and Huckleberry Finn "A chronological sequence is only one way (though a powerful one) of telling a story." Discuss Great Expectations and Huckleberry Finn in light of this statement, commenting on how the "story" is told and what effects are produced by the way the narrative is conducted. Novels often achieve several ends by chronologically orienting their plots, and Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens, and Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain, are excellent examples of novels accomplishing a wide variety of goals while differentiating in styles of chronological sequence. The protagonist and narrator in Great Expectations, Pip, describes his actions while speaking in past tense, both while looking from a thoughtful, mature perspective onto his previous actions and while mentioning the actions and thoughts as if he were of that specific age. On the other hand, Huckleberry Finn (in Huckleberry Finn), in connection to a quality of Huck's character, describes the actions only as if they had just occurred, providing neither foreshadowing nor thoughts describing previous actions. While Pip's specific tone, as well as his actions at the time, illustrates important themes through his characterization, Huck keeps his tone constant while describing his actions and does not reflect how he felt at a certain time in his tone. The number of plot twists and time-related themes and motifs in Great Expectations and the symbol representing the passing of time in Huckleberry Finn make revealing only certain amounts of information as the plots progress have special importance. ...read more.


Dickens uses the serial form of the novel, which requires an emotional "flow" and "ebb" of suspense at the end of every chapter and all throughout the novel. For example, Dickens produces a "flow" of suspense when Pip (at the end of the chapter) runs into guards coming into his home after he flees the dinner table out of fear for being caught for giving food to the convict: "[he] ran head foremost into a party of soldiers with their muskets; one of whom held out a pair of handcuffs to [him], saying 'Here you are, look sharp, come on!'" and produces an "ebb" when Pip is not arrested in the next chapter. Hence, the reader is left in confusion as to how Pip will be arrested, or whether he will be arrested or not, in the following chapter. Another obvious example of the "ebb" and "flow" is when Pip reads Wemmick's order, "DON'T GO HOME", when he returns to the Temple, and the chapter ends, leaving the reader in confusion and being ignorant that the note was actually a wedding invitation. Therefore, the chronologically oriented serial form of the novel allows for literary cliffhangers encouraging the reader to read the next chapter. Since Huckleberry Finn is a novel which focuses on the usefulness of each item, and not an item's artistic impressiveness (and because Twain knows the novel is published as a book and not in serial form), Twain feels less the need of providing gripping (often "cheesy," in layman's terms) ...read more.


The straightforward language Twain uses allows readers to concentrate on things which take more concentration, such as themes, such as superstitions coming true, or motifs, such as logical thinking. Even the main motif of chronological events, Huck and Jim moving across the Mississippi River representing the passage of time and the search for freedom, directly connects to the plot because their travels over the Mississippi River consist of a large and important part of the story. Therefore, the straightforward chronological sequence allows for the reader to concentrate on matters pertinent to the themes and motifs and also may connect with a central concern in the story. In conclusion, the chronological series of events accomplishes three goals in both stories. First, in Great Expectations, it allows the reader to view Pip's interpretation of the happenings from both mature and immature perspectives, thus allowing a grasp of Pip's character. Huckleberry Finn accomplishes the same goal, but instead by describing actions as they had just occurred and by not showing useless remorse. Second, the serial form of Great Expectations, also a form of "chronological" storytelling, allows Dickens to create enough suspense or anxiety to persuade the reader to read the next chapter. Twain also uses this style of ending chapters, but generally produces less effect than Dickens. Third, by not telling of future knowledge before it has been revealed in the plot, both Dickens and Twain prevent confusion and ensure a clear portrayal of themes and motifs. Hence, the chronologically told and serially written novel allows for clearly articulated and firmly established character portrayal, suspense, themes, and motifs. ...read more.

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