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Great Expectations

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Introduction

How does Dickens direct the readers' emotions in "Great Expectations"? Great Expectations is the story of Pip, on his journey through life as he attempts to become a gentleman. Dickens wrote the novel for a magazine, with a chapter appearing each week. Because of this, almost every chapter contains a cliff hanger. The underlining theme of the novel is that of self betterment. Dickens uses a variety of techniques to direct the readers' emotions throughout "Great Expectations", including atmospheric tension, repetition and rhyme, the narration by Pip and literary allusion. Dickens creates atmosphere and appeals to the senses. This is evident throughout the novel, but nowhere more so than in the first chapter. Dickens captivates the audience in the first chapter to keep them reading throughout the novel, through his long descriptive sentences: "A man (Magwitch) who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin." ...read more.

Middle

Dickens gives the readership these subtle hints to build up to Pip finding that Magwitch is his benefactor. The other major hint of the first chapter is the references to the fact that Magwitch is a criminal: "shook the house that night, like discharges of cannon, or breakings of a sea. The rain came with it and dashed against the window." The reference to the cannons can be linked to when the cannons on the prison ship signalled that the guards could come aboard. Also, the language in the quote shows Pips isolation and fear, as he is alone in his house at the time: "What nervous folly made me start, and awfully connect it with the footstep of my dead sister, matters not." The atmosphere and Pips isolation make his mind wander, eventually leading to him thinking about his dead sister. Dickens purposefully stretches this descriptive passage over several pages to keep the tension high. Also, this allows him to control the pace of the text, directing the readers' emotions. ...read more.

Conclusion

This allows the readership to read Pip's point of view before and after he becomes a gentleman; showing the reader how being a gentleman affects your point of view. One example is how the readership sees him transform into a "snob". This becomes evident in the novel when Pip would rather his fortune came from Miss Havisham (who has inherited all of her money) than Magwitch (who has worked his life to earn the money). The use of characters names by Dickens is an important factor in showing what will happen later in the novel. The name Pip suggests that he will blossom (into a gentleman) under the right conditions. Estella means star, which hints that Pip is going beyond himself in his attempts to woo her. Abel is Magwitch's Christian name, which is connected to Cain's brother, who was a sheep farmer. Abel and Cain were the the two sons of Adam and Eve. In Genesis, Cain kills Abel. Cain could be referring to Compeyson, the other convict who escapes with Magwitch. As "Great Expectations" was written when books were one of the only sources of entertainment, most people would have read much more that they do today. Because of this, Dickens uses literary allusion throughout the novel. ...read more.

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