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Discuss the ways in which Dickens creates and maintains suspense in chapter 39 of 'Great Expectations'.

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Introduction

Florencia Rubio 10CB. Discuss the ways in which Dickens creates and maintains suspense in chapter 39 of 'Great Expectations'. Charles Dickens was born on the 7th February 1812, during the Victorian era. He was born in Portsmouth but spent most of his life in London. He was considered to be the best author of Victorian times and his work is still very famous today. His father was a well paid clerk in the Navy and his family were well off and very high up in the social classes. But in 1814 his father fell into a lot of debt and ended up in prison. This made the Dickens family fall down the social class ladder and become very poor. While Charles's father was in prison, he died this meant that Charles had a very traumatic childhood. This childhood has featured in many of Dickens's books through characters, for example, Great Expectations involves crime, class, London and bad family life, Charles experienced all of these things as a child. Also as a child Dickens's experienced both classes - rich and poor, as Pip does in Great Expectations. When Charles was 12 years old he was sent to work in a blacking factory in Hungerford market to try and help out his family who were in a lot of financial trouble. He used to dream about becoming a gentleman just like Pip does. ...read more.

Middle

The way Dickens has been describing the weather no one would want to go outside unless they really had to. When Pip looks down the staircase he sees that the lamps have been blown out by the wind, this adds to more suspense because he is now in a dark, eerie house in the middle of a gigantic storm. Dickens uses very long sentences, broken up with a lot of punctuation like commas, brackets and the use of 'and' Pip then sees that the lamps on the bridges and in the court had been blown out and the shore was shuddering, this adds to more tension because now its not just the lamps in Pip's house that have gone out, its outside as well. Also this description is a good use of personification because people shudder. At exactly eleven o'clock Pip shuts his book and at the very same time all of the church-clocks in the city chimed, this adds suspense because of the timing and it would of made him jump. He stops and listens to the wind but then suddenly he hears a footstep on one of the stairs. In such appalling weather no one would be outside so the suspense increases. In the last few lines of the paragraph Dickens starts to write in shorter sentences that aren't as detailed as the ones before about the lights being blown out, this is a contrast so that the speed would increase which would also increase on the amount of suspense. ...read more.

Conclusion

There is still abit of suspense though because we still don't know why Magwich has come back and what he wants with Pip. Pip is repulsed by Magwich and wants to stay as far away from his as possible by pushing him away and telling him to stay away. 'Stay! Keep off' he is saying that it wasn't necessary for Magwich to come and find him and thank him for helping him years ago. He is still desperate to get rid of him 'Will you have something to drink before you go?' The rise of tension has become very slow but the readers are still anticipating what is going to happen. We find out that Magwich was sent to live in Australia and he became a sheep-farmer. All Victorian readers would know that if a criminal was sent abroad to live then they would not be allowed back into the country so they would know that Magwich's visit must be important. Very slowly Pip begins to realise why Magwich has come all the way from Australia to see him, 'It was only now that I began to tremble.' Dickens uses repetition to build up more suspense 'Might a mere warmint ask what property?' 'Might a mere warmint ask whose property?' The readers would have by now been thinking that Magwich is Pip's benefactor but they won't be sure, this wondering would build up tension. Magwich continues to ask Pip questions about how to became a gentleman and how got all of his money. ...read more.

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