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AS and A Level: Charles Dickens

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  1. Explore the use of symbolism, pathetic fallacy and metaphors in Great Expectations.

    Amid Pip's experience with Magwitch, an uneasy climate allows Dickens to depict Pip as being defenceless and frail. Dickens opens Chapter 1 by using the setting of a churchyard to create an eerie mood. He describes the churchyard as 'bleak' and 'overgrown', focusing on the inauspiciousness and the isolation of the churchyard during Pip's experience with Magwitch. Dickens repeats the expressions 'nettles' and 'tombstones' proposing that a churchyard is a place of torment and demise; highlighting the sinister mood of Pip's encounter with Magwitch by ingraining tension within the reader. Dickens implies that the afternoon was heading towards evening, suggesting that it was cold and fairly dark in the churchyard at the time; the darkness of the setting symbolises the mystery of the unknown, adding to the already apprehensive atmosphere.

    • Word count: 675

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • Discuss how Dickens creates sadness in Book the Second

    "To conclude, Dickens uses language and dramatic disasters to create sadness throughout the second book. In 1854, the time at which the book was written, people loved romantic tragedy and trauma which the second book has with both Rachel and Stephan, and Mr Harthouse and Louisa. The death of Mrs Gradgrind is another tragedy which Dickens portrays well and is very emotional. He uses the metaphor of life as a river in which we all just drift down until the end and these uses of language as well as others he uses throughout the book are methods which Dickens uses to sadden the reader. The final scene in which Louisa lets out her emotions upon her father, condemning the day she was born and questioning his motives which lead her to be so dispassionate."

  • Compare Charles Dickens' description of Miss Havesham's dressing room with Charles Bronte's description of the red-room.

    "I think my response was stronger to 'Great Expectations', as I found it more intriguing. One of the main causes of this would be that there was actually a person present in the room as it was being narrated. A very interesting person aswell, somebody that can capture your attention. I would imagine so because I simple don't hear of people who lock themselves up like that, although it is a fictitious character. I didn't get into 'Jayne Eyre' as much, it seemed to float past me as I went through it without making much of an impact. As I said a few moments ago, it is probably as there isn't a person in the room as I'm reading the story to interest me as such. I felt that the writing in both stories conjured up a respectful amount of imagery in my mind, but in all I think my preference has swayed towards 'Great Expectations'. Jason Warner"

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