• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Focusing on the characters Magwitch and Miss Havisham, how does Dickens establish a strong sense of character in the novel 'Great Expectations'?

Extracts from this document...


Focusing on the characters Magwitch and Miss Havisham, how does Dickens establish a strong sense of character in the novel 'Great Expectations'? In the novel, 'Great Expectations', Dickens employs a number of techniques to create a strong sense of his characters. One way in which he does this is by describing the settings in which Magwitch and Miss Havisham are placed, and using them to reflect the characters themselves. He situates both in environments that echo neglect, abandonment and decay, and both have an eerie, hostile feel about them. When introducing Magwitch's setting, Dickens writes, "this bleak place overgrown with nettles", whilst he says of Miss Havisham's room, "everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre" These examples show a distinct lack of care toward the setting. Although this does not necessarily mean that nobody cares for the characters themselves; it does suggest they have experienced hardship and are not subjects of much attention or consideration. The word "overgrown" helps to imply this, as does the phrase "everything... which ought to be white, had been white long ago." The quotations also both hint of an emptiness, which can be seen in the words "bleak" and "lost its lustre". This could indicate a loss of the characters, whether it be of status, emotion or another aspect of their lives. This is particularly true of Miss Havisham, whose social status collapsed after being jilted at on her wedding day. ...read more.


After misunderstanding the reply of "There, sir!", and believing that Pip's mother is there in person rather than buried in the graveyard, "he started, made a short run and stopped and looked over his shoulder". The fact that Magwitch immediately starts to flee from another adult, and notably a woman, shows the reader that he is actually in no way brave, or as terrible as he may have first appeared. Finally, in order to make sure Pip complies with his demands, Magwitch feels the need to introduce a "young man". This is obviously a fictional figure that Magwitch has created to scare Pip further, but to the reader it clearly shows that when it comes to the crunch, Magwitch is wholly unable to carry out his previous threats and invents a pretend person that Pip believes will. Dickens also uses this technique with Miss Havisham. This character's appearance is both frightening and disturbing to Pip; he says she was "the strangest lady I have, or shall ever see", and describes her as being "skin and bone" with "sunken eyes" and that he "should have cried out, if I could" Dickens makes it clear that Pip was extremely unnerved by Miss Havisham, and that he found even looking at her quite fearsome. However, to the adult reader, the description of her seems to be one of both a physically, and mentally, ill and frail old woman. ...read more.


In addition, whilst Magwitch at first holds conversation with Pip only, Miss Havisham also speaks with Estella. This communication is actually quite revealing and even the simple statement, "Well? You can break his heart" seems to encapsulate how twisted and bitter she has become of the world, and the people in it. She is using Estella as her revenge upon men, and just as her own heart was broken by a man, she wants every possible man's heart to be broken by Estella. Clearly, this warped sense of justice has been brought on by her own experiences, and we are led to understand some of the torment that Miss Havisham suffers. It also seems as though Pip is to be used by Miss Havisham as an experiment to how effective her own plans can and will be - Pip will be tested as Estella's fist 'victim'. The various techniques that Dickens uses to create the characters Magwitch and Miss Havisham are both extremely well employed and highly interesting. Even through the short introductions, Dickens establishes his characters so that we are able to gain a good understanding of each. Their experiences, suffering, eccentricity and ultimately the profound effects that they will both have upon Pip, are all explored in a manner that still encourages the audience to read further. Although fictional, and existing in situations that are far beyond the average, they are still humane and pathetic characters who readers can both pity and yet fear as they recount Pip's experiences with each one. ?? ?? ?? ?? Chloe Marchant Prose Study Coursework 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Great Expectations section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Great Expectations essays

  1. Great Expectations- Miss Havisham

    at the end; and it's this precise action that humanises her and draws sympathy from both Pip and the reader. In Great Expectations, Dickens creates a dramatic transition in Miss Havisham's emotions. He presents her as a weak, psychologically scarred and abandoned woman that has never been able to move on from her heartbreak.

  2. Great Expectations Role of Magwitch

    his flat, but as he does so, Pip is made uneasy by the expression shown on the strangers face. "With an incomprehensible air of being touched and pleased by the sight of me." This makes the reader sympathetic towards Magwitch, as they are aware that it is he who has

  1. How does Dickens present the character of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations?

    When Miss Havisham questions Pip, whilst they engage in what could be described as an awkward conversation Pip notices that Miss Havisham's watch, and clock in the room had stopped at twenty minutes to nine. This was the time she found out the news that her fianc� would not attend the wedding.

  2. Explore the initial presentation of Dickens Magwitch and Miss Havisham in Great Expectations

    that Magwitch arrives onshore, we know this because words under the semantic field of 'death' are used frequently in the first chapter, for example, 'tombstone', and 'five little lozenges', referring to the graves of Pip's younger siblings, and evoking sympathy in the reader in that Pip is the only one left.

  1. Miss Havisham

    Alternatively, in chapter 49, Miss Havisham becomes humanised. Her appearance is acknowledged as Pip finds her sitting in a 'ragged chair' which presents a sense of decay and lost worth. There was a 'new expression' on her face, but her eyes pained, her face was worn by something more than

  2. Is it possible to feel sympathy for the Miss Havisham and Estella characters in ...

    When pip first meets Miss Havisham he does not look her in the eye, which leads Miss Havisham to say: "You are not afraid of a women who has not seen daylight since you were born?" The way in which Miss Havisham says this gives the reader a sense that

  1. An exploration of the ways in which issues of class and status are presented ...

    Either Marion and Ted's, or Mr. and Mrs. Maudsleys, social subversion is punished by a man's death, which caused a boy to be scarred for life, and Mrs. Maudsley to be in a position from which she would never recover.

  2. "Is Magwitch a Criminal or a Victim of Society

    He made a living by 'tramping, begging, thieving'. He was taught to read by a 'deserting soldier', and it soon becomes clear that he has spent most of his life in the company of some sinister people. We learn of his partnership with Compeyson, and how Compeyson used him, when Magwitch was already worn down and almost destroyed by poverty.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work