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Dickens creates atmosphere and tension in the opening chapter, of Great Expectations

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In this essay I am going to write about how Charles Dickens creates atmosphere and tension in the opening chapter, of Great Expectations. Because the audience cannot see what Dickens wants them to, he has to create atmosphere and tension to guide the audience through the incident, as well as hooking the audience by keeping them interested. Dickens intentionally creates that atmosphere because he wants us to feel sympathy for Pip and what he's going through. And if we care about what happens to Pip we keep interested. Atmosphere and tension set the tone and mood of the book. Dickens begins his book by starting with Pip at the graveyard to create atmosphere and tension, by referring to death and tombstones. The story is set in a time were disease and death were common, before any major advances in medicine, and it was ordinary to loose a lot of your close family to illness. We are told by Pip, that his mother, father, and five little brothers were buried there but that is all we are told. By doing this Dickens has deliberately created a felling of solitude and helplessness and makes the reader feel and identify with Pip. Dickens tells us the churchyard is overgrowing with nettles and there are gravestones all around the area. Instantly the graveyard creates a morbid feeling, and knowing that Pip's dead relatives are surrounding him produces a scary feeling, that you wouldn't want to be in yourself. ...read more.


He describes the churchyard as a "bleak place overgrown with nettles", which gives the impression of a neglected place left to its own devices. By this dickens suggest a place of wilderness within the churchyard as well as a harsh environment outside the churchyard. Dickens constantly describes the place as bleak and dark through out the first chapter and as the story was written at a time were hunger, disease, and thick divides between the rich and the poor were very common in all places it really gives the impression that Pips settings were that of a really horrible and gloomy place. The churchyard surrounding are illustrated as "the dark flat willerness beyond" which mimics that of a horror setting. By using the word wilderness he gives the impression of a place that is dark and creepy, full of wild savage creatures. In the book, the churchyard isn't described as much as the marshes are. I think this is good because it allows you to use your imagination and the reader will begin to draw conclusions which will add to the atmosphere as well as the tension. Although the description of the marshes is more vivid and leaves very little room to imagine, it has fundamental details that are essential to create atmosphere and tension. Dickens describes the marshes as " dark flat wilderness beyond... ...read more.


Pips Description of the convict contains a lot of aggressive verbs. Most of the verbs refer to what has happened to the convict, e.g. "soaked in water... cut by flints... stung... smothered and torn". This showed us what the convict had been through, which in turn gives the reader the impression that the convict is a very desperate man. His desperation highlights his determination to escape. The convict seems intimidating which increases the element of tension in the chapter. Some of the things pip says later on in the chapter also help add to the tension, " He came closer to my tombstone..." Although the tombstone obviously isn't Pips he thinks he is going to die because of how the convict is acting physically and verbally. It feels personal to him and this is a fear-building phrase. Pip is portrayed as being venerable and young. Dickens wants you to see him as an innocent, to see him scared of what is going on as it is a new and shocking experience. Dickens wants us to understand and sympathise with him. Pip describes the convict as "a fearful man" and the convicts first words as "a terrible voice", which tells us that Pips first impression of the convict is a fearful one. The convicts orders are written as if they were directed at the reader. For a second we become pip and undergo what Pip is going though. This creates tension as the reader begins to understand what pip has felt. Dickens uses colour as another factor to create atmosphere morbid ...read more.

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