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From the first chapters of Great Expectations, how does Dickens, using language and style, express his view of the world through the narration of Pip?

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Introduction

From the first chapters of Great Expectations, how does Dickens, using language and style, express his view of the world through the narration of Pip? Reading the opening chapter of Great Expectations demonstrates something of the extraordinary range and power of Dickens language. After a brief statement about his self-naming, which in itself is important as it instigates the whole debate about identity in the novel, Pip goes on to entertain us with an amusing description of his family graves, their inscriptions, and what he, as a small boy, made of them. The older, more sophisticated narrator explores the imaginative but essentially innocent mind of his younger self with a wit and vocabulary that is anything but childlike. ...read more.

Middle

This is not to suggest that Pip's own voice lacks range and variety. As we can see, he can investigate his own childish terror vividly, but he can also recreate Pumblechook's nemesis with the tar-water to great comic effect. Pumblechook's' "appalling spasmodic whooping-cough dance," his "plunging and expectorating" is described from a child's point of view but with an educated adults syntax and vocabulary. As narrator, Pip has a sharp way with irony, particularly when it is directed against his own pretensions. Despite the humour and the comic episodes, the prevailing tone of Pip's narration is one of resigned melancholy. Sometimes the reader feels like an eavesdropper listening to the mature Pip's reflection on his earlier self. ...read more.

Conclusion

He captures the voices of a wide cross-section of society, stressing degrees of verbal formality, distinctive vocabularies and characteristic oddities of syntax. These range from Miss Havisham's self dramatising formalities, to the pompous, self-educated aggrandisement of Pumblechook where the distinctive spelling stress the tone and qualities of the speech. Behind Pip lies Dickens, of course. Along with his other texts, Great Expectations shows all the typical Dickensian tricks of style that emphasise his view on the world. In particular, there are several fine examples of the imaginative transference that makes people perform like robots but objects acquire a life and energy of their own. Of course, this can be very entertaining, but as a technique it has its serious uses. It expresses Dickens' view of society where material things are valued more than people and people are treated like objects. ...read more.

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