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Comment on the Role of Imagery in Great Expectations.

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Introduction

Comment on the Role of Imagery in Great Expectations Great Expectations was written by Charles Dickens in the 1870's and is written about a boy, named Pip, who grows up in a normal country life and befriends a convict whose name is Magwitch. Pip first meets Magwitch in a churchyard whilst looking over his mother and father's grave. Later he meets a lawyer called Jaggers who tells Pip that he has "... great expectations." Pip grows up on his inheritance, his great expectations, and falls in love with Estella; the adopted daughter of Miss Havisham who Pip believes is his Benefactor. Towards the end of the novel it becomes clear that Magwitch is actually giving him the money because of his help in the churchyard with the food. My aim in this essay is to find how Dickens portrays the imagery in this book. At the very beginning of the story Pip is standing in the Graveyard of the local church when he meets an escaped convict who later lets himself be known as Magwitch. During this scene in the book Dickens hands over brilliant imagery of the Marshes, "...and that the low leaden line beyond was the river; and that distant savage layer from which the wind was rushing, was the sea..." Dickens uses this imagery to make the atmosphere come to life. The "low leaden line beyond" makes the surrounding country come to life and you can almost see the river like a stick of something cold and wet that Pip is almost visibly afraid of. It makes the country seem spookily enticing yet dismal. The "distant savage layer", however, suggests like the river that a huge "monster" will come and get Pip if he turns his back. This is very clever of Dickens because not only is he portraying the imagery of the Marshes but he is using imagery that coincides with the child-like imagination of the character in the scene, which is Pip. ...read more.

Middle

Next are the places of work and the first must be Jaggers' Office. Pip arrives in London and goes to see Mr Jaggers. As he enters the office Pip arrives at the immediate conclusion that this is not a very nice place. "Mr Jaggers' room was lighted by a skylight only, and was the most dismal place; the skylight eccentrically patched like a broken head." The meaning of this is that because Mr Jaggers is a Lawyer he has obviously had people hanged for various crimes. The skylight is like one of the heads of the people that have been hanged looking down on him as if to judge him. Mr Jaggers also has different weapons that he has collected from various places or people, "such as an old rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard..." Perhaps this is as if they are symbols of his job. There is also one other fact about the office, "Mr Jaggers' own high-backed chair was of deadly black horse hair, with rows of brass nails round it, like a coffin..." This makes it seem as though Mr Jaggers is sitting in his own grave. The black horsehair makes it seem even more like a funeral as you can imagine the horses pulling a Hurse with a coffin on top. You can imagine what Pip must have felt like whilst he looked around Mr Jaggers' office seeing old weapons, an old chair that has a strong resemblance to a coffin and masks of dead faces which have not even been mentioned yet. These faces are presumably of people Mr Jaggers has had hanged and do not exactly help the atmosphere of the place. Another mentionable thing about the place where he works is that the office that he works in is called "Little Britain". Dickens is stating here that Britain is just as corrupt as Jaggers' Office and in some ways even more so. ...read more.

Conclusion

One more scene is the court scene where Magwitch is being tried, "...a broad shaft of light between the two-and-the-thirty and the judge, linking both together..." this states that the justice system is corrupt and that the thirty-two convicts are just as guilty as the judge. Dickens also describes this scene like a theatre because of the on looking people and the reality of the trial and how the justice system is mocked at like a comedy or pantomime. There are actually two endings to the book, the original where Pip finally meets Estella after two years but she decides to leave and they do not get together and the other in the published version of the book where Estella makes up her mind to stay with Pip and not to leave. The published version is very different compared to the other ending as the ending begins at night. This is clever because the novel begins in the morning and therefore ends at night. This is because Dickens wants to bring the fact that it is the end of the book to life and to say that this is the end of the book without having to have a complicated ending. It is also at night because it brings atmosphere and a certain charm to the end of the book, "But the stars were shining beyond the mist, and the moon was coming..." This image of the stars also gives a great romantic atmosphere to fall in love with Estella and Dickens portrays this brilliantly. In fact the old ending Dickens was told not to use has been incorporated into the end few pages of the book and is used quite effectively to add different aspects to the end. The social criticism is important in the book because most of the readers of the book at that time where living in London. Dickens is trying to give a different perspective and view of the life of London at the time of the book. Edward Mathews 1 ...read more.

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