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Dickens employs a rich variety of settings and characters to embody the continual struggle between darkness and light central to his novel Great Expectations. Examine how the author has captured this symbolic battle

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Introduction

"Great Expectations" By Charles Dickens Dickens employs a rich variety of settings and characters to embody the continual struggle between darkness and light central to his novel Great Expectations. Examine how the author has captured this symbolic battle, and how it has been dramatically linked to Pip's ever-changing fortunes. Dickens captures the symbolic battle between the darkness and the light by employing a wide diversity of settings and characters to represent the ever-changing situations that Pip is in. The characters are always correlated to the background to convey the lessons that Dickens wants to show and he uses the characters to (more or less) tell the story, which gives the novel an almost theatrical, feel like the backgrounds are painted to suit the event. The author makes it easy for us to imagine the setting which creates these very dramatic, colourful backdrops in our imagination, by creating the mood and the atmosphere of the book. A continual question that is kept throughout the story is whether Pip's aggressive side has anything to do with his working class background and how uneducated he is? As the reader we can only conclude this question right at the end of the novel, when Pip essentially aspires to his "Great Expectations" and his new status. Pip has two sides to his ever-changing character, a good side and a bad side which is very much influenced by where he is or what is happening. It becomes clear as the novel progresses that whenever Pip is with Mr Joe Gargery his, loving, kind side is always brought out. Joe is always linked to the brighter side of nature, a man who never thinks or talks ill of anyone. It is Joe's influence and presence that is evidently replicated upon Pip in this quote "There I stood, for minutes, looking at Joe, already at work with a glow of health and strength upon his face that made it show as if the bright sun of the life in store for him were shining on it." ...read more.

Middle

One image that Dickens returns to many times is the mist and fog: he uses the mist to represent Pip's confusion continually through the story. If ever Pip is uncertain, the mist appears in the marshes which causes him to become indecisive of which way to go: "the marsh-mist was so thick, that the wooden finger on the post directing people to our village- a direction which they never accepted, for they never can't there- was invisible to me". The mist is linked to the hopes and fears in Pip's head and when he mentions the signpost, the mist only allows for certain images to be visible. The mist throughout the story gives Pip clues as to where his future lies and which direction to take. Even though the mist on the marshland confuses him "however, in the confusion of the mist, I found myself at last too far to the right", the mist also guides him to clues about his future and shows him glimpses of people involved in his future. First Magwitch then Compencant. Whenever Pip is clear about a particular character in the novel, Dickens describes the mist as closing in again on the marsh "I indicated in what direction the mist had shrouded the other man, and he looked up at it for an instant", I feel this is to show that Pip no longer is uncertain about the character in question. "The last I heard of him, I stopped in the mist to listen, and the file was still going", the mist being constantly linked to the involvement with assorted characters and situations. When a major event is about to occur the mist clears "either the mist was not out again yet, or the wind had dispelled it", I think that the novelist is very clever to be able to use the mist in this way as it adds to the dramatic feel of the story and the tension. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens forever tries to show the passion Pip feels for Estella and how he totally adores and worships her. The novelist also uses descriptions to portray the fact that Estella is everything that suggests hope and represents nothing but brightness- dazzling everyone who sees her "as if she were going out into the sky". In Pip's eyes Estella is his future "did I never give her a burning love, inseparable from jealousy" this quote interestingly related to Miss Havisham in her artificial use of candles and her death amidst fire. Miss Havisham keeping Estella in the dark destroyed a part of Estella, making her have no experience feelings. It was like the writer intended to give the image that if you are shut up without light, your feelings are shut up as well and there is no way for them to escape. Throughout the book you have a deliberate contrast between Miss Havisham (darkness) and Estella (star, brightness), bringing a battle between the two dissimilar worlds, which in the end do collide to create a series of tragedies. Conclusively I feel Dickens uses an abounding diversity of environments and characters to represent the ever-changing situations that Pip is in. He also uses the contrast between light and dark to create key symbols between the character and their background. Throughout the novel Dickens explores a wide range of themes, some of which including the two sides to Pip's character and weather his aggressive side has anything to do with his working class background and how uneducated he is. I think Dickens captures the symbolic battle between darkness and light well using the contrast between mist and clearances in the mist and the contrast between using candles in dark settings. Overall I believe Dickens using light vs darkness creates a sensational feel to the novel which dramatically links Pip's ever-changing fortunes to the eerie marshland mist. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1/7 By Sarah Biggs 10Red English Coursework ...read more.

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