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Examine how Dickens shoes that appearances can be deceptive in Great Expectations

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Examine how Dickens shows that appearances can be deceptive in Great Expectations Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was published in 1861 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest novels ever written. Though it has great acclaim as a novel, following the story of Pip, a boy from a small town with hopes of being a gentleman, it is also thought that Dickens used it to commentate on nineteenth century society. In 1861, Queen Victoria's reign was halfway through its course and with the industrial revolution in full swing, society was changing dramatically. Through Great Expectations, Dickens expresses his view on many aspects of society, including crime and punishment, the upper classes and Britain as a whole. In much of this he demonstrates that appearances can be deceptive, and many of the settings, characters and themes of this book show this as well. The setting at the very start of the book has an appearance that Dickens shows to be deceptive. It is the Kent marshes, which Dickens describes at the beginning of the book as "the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates". However, Pip later says, "A stranger would have found them [the marshes] insupportable... but I knew them, and could have found my way on a far darker night". So the marshes, even though they appear to be desolate and dismal, can come to be known and comprehended, as Pip comes to find in the novel. ...read more.


One of these is Orlick, who in the beginning seems to be an unimportant, though nasty, labourer. The language Dickens uses with Orlick contributes to this: he is described as "gruff" and when he speaks "growling". Orlick's direct speech gives the impression that he is dim-witted, for example, "wot" is used rather than 'that' on numerous occasions. As the novel progresses, however, Orlick has a greater importance and shows greater intelligence - he attacks Mrs Joe and then Pip, which means that Dickens had the aim to show that all people should be respected and are capable of anything. Another character who has a greater role than is apparent is Mr Wopsle. From the first impression of him, he is merely a villager who comes round for Christmas dinner. But his significance is made apparent later when, at a theatre performance in which Wopsle is starring, he notices Compeyson standing behind Pip "like a ghost". This shows how well Dickens had planned his novel, as only someone who had been in the marshes when Magwitch and Compeyson were arrested would be able to warn Pip in this way. Also, Pip was reluctant to go the theatre, but if he had not gone, he would not have found that Compeyson was tailing him. So a small event or occurrence can be more important than it may appear. Herbert Pocket is the other character who appears to have a minor role initially. ...read more.


Dickens experiments with genre in Great Expectations, not using any genre as a total base for the book. Parts of it make it seem like a romance, for example, Miss Havisham's experience with Compeyson and Pip and Estella. As it is written in the first person, it is obviously autobiographical, but as it is fictional, it cannot simply be called an autobiography. It is also partly mystery, since there are the mysteries of Pip's benefactor and, to a lesser extent, Mrs Joe's attacker. The involvement of crime in such a way could also be seen to mean the genre is thriller. This illustrates that Dickens wanted to show that appearances could be deceptive as he hasn't given the entire book a clear appearance. In conclusion, Dickens uses a variety of complex methods to demonstrate that appearances are deceptive. Though this highly intensifies the power of the novel, Dickens also used it to commentate on nineteenth century society, particularly on class difference. His central social point is that the appearance of the nobility is deceptive, in that it is not 'noble', as such, and often quite the opposite. He also shows that it is not worth aspiring to, and one's 'great expectations' of noble life are often flawed. In summary, Dickens uses virtually all the major characters, settings and themes of Great Expectations to show that appearances are deceptive, especially highlighting the lack of 'nobility' in the upper-classes and that irrelevant details and events can become relevant. ?? ?? ?? ?? GCSE English/English Literature Prose Study Assignment Page 1 of 6 ...read more.

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