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Essay on "Great Expectations" (by Charles Dickens)

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Jenny Rowe - English Coursework Essay on "Great Expectations" (by Charles Dickens). Explore Dickens effective "language" to create "setting" and "character" in the opening chapter of Great Expectations. Dickens opens the theme of death early in the chapter. In the second paragraph he mentions the tombstones of Pips parents, "I gave Pirrip as my fathers family name on the authority of his tombstone". This informs us that Pip experienced death at an early age. He goes on to describe the churchyard and the land around continuing the themes of death, and general negativity. Pip says that, "My most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening." The word vivid is used to create the impression that this afternoon sticks out clearly in his memory and that its in contrast to other things that have been forgotten and are less clear in his mind. His use of the phrase "impression of" and the word memorable also show that it has been impressed into in his memory - clearly something important happened. ...read more.


Dickens also did not like the menial job he had when he was younger and thought he was to good for his station, as Pip does later on in the novel. Dickens's father was imprisoned for debt at one time and Dickens and his family were imprisoned with him. This meant that he would have met convicts and knew what they were like, just as Pip meets one in the churchyard. Dickens uses language to give us our first impression of the convict's character before we have even seen him. First thing we get is his voice, ""Hold your noise" cried a terrible voice", Dickens use of the word terrible sets the scene, implying that it is loud and frightening, striking terror into Pip. Next the man appears himself, "a man started up from among the graves at the side of the church porch" started up suggests that he came from nowhere and the fact the it was from "among the graves" makes him a bit spooky as though he had just risen from one of them! ...read more.


...... the other a gibbet with some chains hanging to it which had once held a pirate. The man was limping on towards this latter, as if he were the pirate come to life, and come down, and going back to hook himself up again." This is effective as Pip mixes up the images of the pirate and the convict in his head, and Dickens also uses personification: "as I saw the cattle lifting their heads to gaze after him, I wondered if they thought so too." Dickens effectively uses the language to show us the idea of the convict and the pirate coming to life mixed up together terrifies Pip until: "But, now I was frightened again and ran home without stopping." This chapter effectively sets up the events to come by introducing a sense of the colourless and bleak world that Pip inhabits and which is built on in the rest of the book. It also introduces us to the writer's skill with language when he describes the place and characters, showing his skill at detailed descriptions and demonstrating how effectively he uses the language. ...read more.

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