• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Dickens use setting to convey the mood in the opening chapters of Great Expectations?

Extracts from this document...


How does Dickens use setting to convey the mood in the opening chapters? The opening chapters of any novel are key in introducing the reader to the storyline. There are numerous ways in which to attach the reader early on in, and to, the novel. The opening chapters are where the reader will become acquainted with key characters, become involved in the characters' lives, and get an overall feeling/mood about the novel. It is important that these opening chapters, then, are skilfully written so that the reader becomes involved in all aspects of the novel to come. The main settings in the opening chapters of Great Expectations are that of the churchyard, Pip's home, and the marshes. Each of these settings deliver a sombre mood, which is especially evident in those settings based outside. This is because the wide-open spaces are harsher than those inside, and Pip is less familiar with them. The external world also offers Dickens to experiment with the idea of Pip being afraid of things he cannot see, and therefore gives Pip an unsettled feeling, which is passed on to an involved reader. ...read more.


There are obstacles on the marshes such as dykes, mounds and gates, which work as visual obstructions as well as symbols for possible upcoming obstacles in Pip's life. Dickens maintains the use of words such as 'flat', 'low' and 'dark' which gives an eerie feel and dense mood to the opening chapter. There is further symbolism in Pip's surrounding, in that there is both a flowing river and flat, solid ground on one landscape; this could reflect that there are two ways in which to travel the same distance, and that Pip is soon to have to choose a path to take, (in turn altering his life), - this is thought-provoking and concerning to a reader, and intensifies the already dampening mood. The marshland is repeatedly represented as a place where good meets sin, this is shown in the image of its skyline - which is of 'long angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed' - as well as in the only two vertical structures on the horizontal landscape of the marshes - a beacon and a gibbet. ...read more.


Instead of Pip's 'running at everything, everything seemed to run at him'. Pip's guilty conscience shows that he is an innocent and thoughtful child, who knows the difference between right and wrong. Pip is no longer as afraid of Magwitch and, as he becomes less afraid, so too does the reader for Pip. He is more afraid of the obstacles that seem to 'call out at him' as he crosses the marshes. Dickens makes Pip's surroundings surreal under the mist to convey a feeling of uncertainty and ambiguity. These opening chapters prove important as they become even more relevant later into the novel. The 'bleak' settings and heavy moods give the reader a sense of what's to come of the story, and of Pip. The settings in the earliest chapters are thoroughly described in order to deliver a definite mood. Though the mood of the opening chapters remain similar to each other, the settings go between that of the desolate marshes and of Pip's own home. The fact that the settings can be of two extremes, and the mood warrant similar feelings from a reader, shows that Dickens is highly skilled and deliberate in how he delivers these chapters so that they can be perceived this way. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Charles Dickens section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Charles Dickens essays

  1. Dickens' approach of contrasting circumstances in both France and England acts as the appropriate ...

    Imagery and setting is combined here, as a wine-drinker were described as having "a tigerish smear about the mouth,"(25) and "The beach was a desert of heaps of sea and stones, and the sea did what it liked- destruction."

  2. How does Dickens use language in chapter 50 of Oliver Twist to show the ...

    them, hundreds of angry, bloodthirsty citizens of London, in fact there were so many of them as he describes they got themselves in grave danger, falling over each other and nearly crushing each other. Before the mob is introduced there is a coming together of little Charley Bates and Bill

  1. Social class in Great Expectations and its effect upon the characters

    This emphasises how Dickens is trying to indicate that does social status does not necessarily reflect a person's character. Satis House is symbolic, in that it represents the darkness and decay of Miss Havisham's character. The stopped clocks throughout the house; 'There was a clock on the outer wall of

  2. Explore Joe Gargery's role in Great Expectations

    He is accepting of himself, he knows he is not the cleverest, in fact ?awful? suggests that he thinks he is very stupid. Moreover, ?dull? could imply many things, not only that he is stupid, but also that he isn?t sharp.

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

    They are symbols of his aspirations and also the desire of social advancement. Thus, when Pip receives a large fortune from a secret benefactor, he takes advantage of his rise in wealth and capital, and more importantly what it offers him regarding power and prestige.

  2. How does Charles Dickens use the ghost story genre to provoke fear in both ...

    The author continues to drive the reader?s senses by playing around with it until he slowly starts to introduce the conflict. In conclusion, phenomenon author, Charles Dickens has written a sensational story as he had clearly introduced the astonishing setting and exposition in a very fashionable way.

  1. Throughout A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens tells the story of several characters, ...

    What may have seemed to be just talk about how much he loved Lucie turned out to be very, very real. In this passage, Carton declares to Lucie, “…think now and then that there is a man who would give his life, to keep a life you love beside you” ï¨204).

  2. How successful is Dickens in gaining our interest as readers in the opening chapter ...

    The repetition of the word ?and? before each verb makes the list of the convict?s appearance sound considerably longer. The use of an iambic poetic rhythm further reinforces this idea that the list is made to sound longer. The words used to describe the convict are also stressed to sound more convincing, creating an extended metaphor of an animal.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work