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Examine two works of Dickens and analyse how the feeling of a guilty conscience has been created.

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26th June 2001 Coursework question: Examine two works of Dickens and analyse how the feeling of a guilty conscience has been created. For the purpose of this coursework title I am studying "Great Expectations" and "A Confession Found in a Prison in the Time of Charles the Second" both written by Charles Dickens. In 'G.E.' Pips character is revealed in stages and in explicit detail whilst taking a long while to begin the tale. We are immediately told his forename, surname and about his childhood - we learn of his mother and father's death and are shown his imaginative qualities early on when he builds up a picture of his parents derived from the writing on their tombstones. When Pip returns home we see that he can be a mischievous child partly because he wasn't supposed to be in the graveyard and also because of his relationship with Joe. Pip has faults and is therefore a character with which we can sympathise. Pip appears to be a well-mannered boy with little experience of the world; he has a vivid imagination and shows the early signs of being very conscientious of his own actions. The 'Confession' is very different in style to 'G.E.' ...read more.


There was little love lost between the two brothers and even less between him and his brother's wife. After she died he thought he haunted him, and whenever he looked at the child he saw her face. Soon after he felt uneasy and began to think how useful the child's trust fund would be. After the tension builds within the page "then drawing nearer and nearer" the narrator begins not to worry about murdering the child just how to do it. This is very convincing in the way his feelings aren't obvious from the start, but we begin to notice them appearing over a period of time. The natural world plays a big part in the feelings shown in that particular scene. Pathetic fallacy is shown quite often in "G.E.", When Pip leaves to meet the convict he is terrified and lonely his feelings and emotions are reflected in the weather and the occurrences around him. "Coarser of spiders webs" everything looks evil and frightening to him on that morning even the dew on the trees, later he sees a cow which to him looks like a Judge of a priest "...Clerical air..." instantly Pip blurts out how he didn't want to do it. ...read more.


Despite this there is still a love hate relationship between the narrator and the reader, we feel sorry for him, but dislike him for his actions. Dickens uses "That I" repeatedly to great effect in the final paragraph, this lets us know that he has been going over the same feelings of guilt in his mind and sorrow mainly for himself and for being caught, rather than for committing the murder. I believe that Dickens successfully creates the feeling of a guilty conscience in both stories and allows the reader to share in the experience intimately. The two consciences are very different, Pips innocence allows him to feel incredibly guilty for stealing a pork pie, and the man in "The Confession" shows little emotion and his guilt is for being caught. The message of a guilty conscience is conveyed well to us, but it would have meant more to those in Dickens time. We no longer have prison ships, or gibbets and never hear the canon sounded for an escaped convict, we can only begin to imagine all of these things, but Dickens' words help to bring this things to life even though we have never seen them before. The quality of Dickens writing leaves us with the feeling that we have shared the experience of a guilty conscience disregarding the era that we are from. ...read more.

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