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Both Pip in Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' and Jem and Scout in Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' have deep fears in early childhood - How do the authors create these fears and vulnerabilities?

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English Wider Reading Assignment Both Pip in Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' and Jem and Scout in Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' have deep fears in early childhood. How do the authors create these fears and vulnerabilities? Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' and Harper Lee's 'To Kill a Mockingbird' are two very different books. 'Great Expectations' tells the story of a young boy growing up in Kent at the beginning of the 19th century, and 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' centres around two children growing up in America in the 1930s. However, despite the obvious differences in the infant characters and the cultures in which they live, all of the children have deep fears, and both authors use devices to give the reader an insight into what the child experiences. The children are also presented as vulnerable needing advice and reassurance when faced with problems, and trying to find adults that they can trust and confide in. There are many ways in which Dickens attempts to display Pip's vulnerability in 'Great Expectations', and one of the most obvious is the pathos in the initial chapter. Pip begins by standing in a deserted graveyard, looking at his parent's grave. The reader immediately knows that Pip loves his parents, even though he did not know them, and the reader assumes that Pip spends a lot of time in the churchyard looking at his family's graves, as if he is spending time with his family. ...read more.


There is no doubt that Dickens created the infant Pip as a 'victim.' Almost every other character insults or physically hurts Pip. One of the persecutors is Pip's own sister, known as 'Mrs. Joe'. She resents having to look after Pip, and often beats him with 'a wax ended piece of cane' euphemistically referred to as 'the Tickler.' Another of Pips persecutors is Joe's uncle, known to all as Uncle, Pumblechook, who takes every possible opportunity to show his dominance over Pip. One of the most obvious is at the Christmas meal, when Uncle Pumblechook calls Pip 'a swine' and the entire meal becomes a punishment for Pip. The lives of Atticus children are often dominated by the irrational fear of one group of characters, the Radleys. The Radley family are the only family which are not a real part of Maycomb's community, and rumours and legends have built up around the house and the family, notably the mysterious Arthur Radley, commonly known as 'Boo'. Scout describes Boo as a 'malevolent phantom', he intrigues the children with his solitary existence, as they do not understand how anybody could live without the community around them. One of the most haunting characters in Great Expectations is 'Miss Havisham', a woman who was jilted on her wedding day, and has stopped her life on the day, leaving everything exactly as it was. ...read more.


Another device that Dickens uses to inform the reader about the characters are charecternyms. Initially, Pip; a Pip is defined as 'a small seed' and this especially in his infant years, is very suitable. He has to grow, and become bigger, and although he is only small he contains great potential. Estella is another example of a charecternym. Estella means 'star' and through Pip the reader sees many characteristics of a star. She is distant and apparently cold. The allegory to a star is intensified in Pip's first meeting with Estella 'her light came down the dark passage like a star.' Pumblechook is a name which, it itself suggests a large, rotund character and Uncle Pumblechook reflects this name. Pip feels intimidated by his size. Dickens use characternyms to show the reader Pip's view of the characters. Pip, Jem and Scout all have fears in their childhood, but they react to them differently. Pip stoically accepts his situation, and continues to endure the oppression inflicted upon him. Pip confides in Joe, but Joe is unable to take any action. Jem and Scout also feel threatened, but they can tell Atticus, who is always willing to mediate between them and other people, and do all that he can to solve their problems. To conclude, Dickens and Lee both use devices in their writing to present a child's view of the world, and both successfully convey the fears and vulnerabilities of their infant characters. Pritters Free GCSE coursework Page 1 of 3 ...read more.

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