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How successful is Dickens in gaining our interest as readers in the opening chapter of Great Expectations?

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Introduction

´╗┐How successful is Dickens in gaining our interest as readers in the opening chapter of ?Great Expectations?? Dickens promptly introduces the reader to Pip who serves both as the retrospective narrator and as the young protagonist of the novel. This works on a two level approach with regard to guiding us through the plot as an omnipotent narrator whilst simultaneously leading us through Pip?s life with the immediacy of a first person narrative. It is clear from the beginning that it is Pip?s perceptions which entirely define the events and characters of the novel. Dickens utilises this dichotomy in the opening chapter by exploiting Pip?s narrative perspective. We are introduced to Pip as if in the midst of a pleasant conversation with him, ?I give Pirrip as my father?s family name?? Immediately after however, we are subjected to the unravelling thoughts and fears of a frightened child under threat. This serves to capture our attention and instil a sense of compassion for Pip, for who we fear the worst. Dickens employs Pip as the narrator to present a prospective and prophetic relationship between himself and the escaped convict. ...read more.

Middle

We are able to establish from this that Mrs Joe Gargery never mentions or talks about their Mother, which again makes us realise his lack of parental love. This light-hearted ponder at the gravestone?s inscriptions briefly lifts the sombre mood of the chapter which largely revolves around death, and allows Dickens to lessen the dramatic tension building up. We can conclude from this chapter that Pip has experienced loss and death at an early age but he seems accustomed to it. However, it could also reveal how Pip is lacking in certain life experiences, which we realise could affect him and his choices negatively in the future. We discover that Pip?s five younger brothers gave up trying to obtain a living exceedingly early in that ?universal struggle?. Whilst they had ?given in? but Pip himself hadn?t, it reveals his resilience and strength to succeed. Knowing this, this early in the novel about Pip?s character, it infuses the reader with a sense of optimism about Pip and his future. Dickens concentrates heavily on the ?bleak? settings and grave moods to prepare the reader for a sense of what?s to come in the story, and of Pip. ...read more.

Conclusion

There are also only two vertical structures on the horizontal landscape of the marshes ? a beacon and gallows. The beacon?s use is to guide sailors home and steer them from danger, whereas gallows are used to hang criminals for crimes they have committed. These two structures symbolise good and evil and the choices in which Pip is to make ? leading to either a life of good or a life of sin. The ?green mounds? and ?nettles? all portray the hostility of everything against Pip, with connotations of something that could hurt him. The ?wind? rushes from the ?distant savage lair?. This metaphor is used to describe the sea from which the ?wind is rushing? and the use of pathetic fallacy creates a harsh and tense atmosphere of a claustrophobic nature. However, to Pip, the wind is a wild beast and the ?savage lair? is the den from which the wind comes. This further intensifies the sympathy we as a reader have for Pip. To conclude, Dickens utilises the vulnerability and innocence of Pip to evoke both sympathy and anticipation for the young boy and his future. It is the confusion of the opening chapter?s happenings and the title ?Great Expectations? which makes us as a reader eager to continue the novel and our journey with Pip. ...read more.

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