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Comparison of the first chapters of Pride and Prejudice and Great Expectations

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Introduction

Comparison between the first chapter of 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens and 'Pride and Prejudice' by Jane Austen. In the first chapter of Great Expectations, Dickens uses first person narrative to present a retrospective account of the narrator's formative experiences. The narrator has obviously matured and learnt much since his days as a young boy, and he recounts his innocent imagination with some humour and disdain: "My first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones." Here Dickens uses authorial control to present a pitiful account of a lonely, orphaned boy; "and that Philip Pirrip, late of the parish, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried." And the fact that he mentions his parents death in the second paragraph shows just how significantly this has affected the young boy's life. ...read more.

Middle

Single, my dear to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!'" Austen presents Mrs Bennet as a personification of the first sentence of the book, and uses humour and irony to satirise and mock her. Another comparison between the two first chapters is that Dickens is very descriptive in his opening paragraphs: "Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles at sea." whereas Austen does not give any background information on the characters and where they live until the end. At the end of the chapter Austen describes Mr and Mrs Bennet: "Mr Bennet was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice." ...read more.

Conclusion

For example in Great Expectations, Dickens contrasts the young, innocent Pip against the old and experienced nature of the escaped convict. When Pip meets the old man he lets his fearful imagination take hold of him: "'O! Don't cut my throat sir,'" I plead in terror. 'Pray don't do it, sir.'" which shows just how little understanding of the world Pip has. In Pride and Prejudice Mr Bennet's mildly sarcastic statements are lost on Mrs Bennet, who's over enthusiasm makes her oblivious to Mr Bennet's mocking tone: "Mr Bennet, how can you abuse your own children in such way? You take delight in vexing me. You have no compassion on my poor nerves." The disparity between them is amusing, but it is also ironic, as the reader's first view of marriage in a novel about finding marital happiness is one of a mismatched couple that cannot communicate. Hannah McInerny ...read more.

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