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Discuss the effectiveness of the opening chapter of ‘Great Expectations’.

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Introduction

Discuss the effectiveness of the opening chapter of 'Great Expectations' Charles Dickens was a very famous writer who was born 7th February 1812. One of most famous books is 'Great Expectations' which was serialised in 1860. 'Great Expectations' is about a young infant boy called Pip (Philip Pirrip) whose mother, father and five little brothers are all departed. His sister Mrs Joe Gargery and her husband Mr Joe Gargery, a blacksmith, then looked after Pip. The novel 'Great Expectations' begins very swiftly and promptly, as the start of the novel sees Pip visiting his deceased family. I think this is very effective in a story like this because straight away Dickens wants to show Pip's isolation and fear, as he stands alone before his families' gravestones at the start of the novel and how he explains that his sister 'brought him up by hand', this means that his sister would beat him if he did something wrong. This was not uncommon at the time when this novel was written because in the 19th Century, orphans and convicted criminals, like Pip and Magwich, were very badly treated and physically abused; the treatment that these unfortunate people suffered was inhumane. Dickens knew that this was not right so one of the main reasons why Dickens wrote this novel was to inform and notify the audience about the mistreating of orphans and convicts. ...read more.

Middle

As stated before Dickens uses high-quality description of his characters, this makes them stand out from the rest and become more vivid. I think this is because as Dickens was growing up his father was always in debt and in and out of prison, so Dickens was sent to work at the young age of 12 and Dickens stated 'They were the most terrible times of my life'. From this I have come to the conclusion that Dickens created Pip from his own experience in life and because Dickens actually lived like Pip, it makes him sound more realistic and believable for the audience. Dickens lived like Pip and experienced the brutal treatment for himself. The novel 'Great Expectations' is actually being told by Pip himself, but not as a child, as an adult looking back at when he was younger. This is very effective and is successful language by Dickens, as it gives us an adult opinion and perspective of a child's life. We know that the narrator is a mature one, because he talks about his childish conclusions of his family by looking at the inscriptions on their gravestones and how his 'infantile tongue' could only make out the name Pip from his full name. "From the inscriptions, I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly". ...read more.

Conclusion

It is also because of Dickens's choice of words why his main character is called Pip; because the word Pip means a seed from which things grow. This is true of the text because Pip does grow throughout the novel from a young orphan to a rich gentlemen, so the name Pip is a very interesting name for this novel. The social and historical setting in this novel is in similarity with the real life environment at the time as in the novel Magwich the convict has been very badly treated and is very adverse, this also happened in the environment at the time that this novel was wrote. Also the brutal abuse of Pip the orphan is similar to the exploitation of the orphans in the surrounding atmosphere. By reading this novel we can get a rough idea of the physical abuse that the orphans and convicts suffered at the time, I think this is very useful because it would have been a very good real-life novel. On a whole I think that chapter one of 'Great Expectations' is very effective by the choice of language and words used by the famous, experienced writer Charles Dickens. However if we look at chapter one in relation to chapter two I think that chapter one and chapter two go together to make a unit, Nevertheless chapter one is still very successful. Andrew Marshall 11 A 3 GCSE Literature Coursework ...read more.

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