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

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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.

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