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Great Expectations

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Introduction

Great Expectations Great Expectations was first published in 1861, Dickens' first publications being 'Sketches by Boz' his pseudonym, his first publications under his own being 'The Pickwick Papers" (1836-7) In Dickens's time over 350 crimes were punishable by the death penalty. Many people who stayed in prison died - that is why Magwitch's death doesn't come as a surprise later in the book - the death penalty was supposed to deter other criminals. Conditions were terrible and the stench was unavoidable and putrescent, the people in the prison lived in squalor. Life for commoners was hard and everyone had to work exceedingly hard for a living especially if they had a large family, if they got into debt (like Dickens's own family) they were often thrown into debtor's prison, often the entire family was put in as well. In the first paragraph we learn that almost all of Pip's family are dead and were buried in the local churchyard, Pip says that he doesn't remember what they looked like so they must have died soon after he was born, this is quite normal for this era because lots of people died from illnesses cause by poor living conditions. The novel opens with 'Pip' talking about his family's name and how he could not pronounce his name 'Philip' or his surname 'Pirrip' "came to be called Pip" implies that the name stayed with him throughout adult life also. ...read more.

Middle

Therefore he describes with accuracy the fearful, atmosphere of the threatening man's behaviour in the churchyard. The dialogue used on the entrance of the criminal is "hold your noise", "keep still, you little devil, or I'll cut your throat". This instantly tells the reader that Pip is younger and has been grabbed and is held against his will by the criminal. Pip's descriptive words when he describes the man as a "fearful" with a great iron his leg", is projecting the image of the cast irons on the criminal ankles, these words are showing Pip's young age. Pip also pleads with him as he is terrified that the criminal may hurt him. The description of the house sounds very dark and dreary "which of old brick, and dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it." This creates a creepy atmosphere full of apprehension. The house seems almost derelict and in much need of attention "Some of the windows had been walled up; of those that remained all the lower were rustiy barred." The further in Pip goes the more the house appears to be uncared for, "and all was empty and disused". When Pip enters Miss Havisham's room Pip goes on to describe Miss Havisham as he first sees her, in fancy clothes at first glance she looks very posh and dressed in rich materials, gradually as Pip takes in ...read more.

Conclusion

Miss Havisham seems determined to live out her life through Estella which is possible the only reason she adopted her. Miss Havisham appears to want to take revenge on the male species so she tells Estella "Well? You can break his heart." This demonstrates that she wants people to feel the same pain that she has felt all these years. Dickens conveys his message very well through Miss Havisham and how you could move on from something and get a new dream even if your previous one didn't occur, if Miss Havisham had then she would have been a lot happier and wouldn't have tried to control other people's lives such as Estella's and Pip's. I think Dickens message in this book relates greatly to the loss of his sister in law Mary who died and he is trying to convince himself that even though that dreadful event happened it is important for him to move on from it. Overall the use of Dickens' language adds greatly to the effect of the book and wouldn't be as intriguing if it used more common language. The settings play a special part in the book as the plot wouldn't seem quite right if it were situated anywhere else, the period in which it is set is of major importance as the story wouldn't have the same meaning if it had been set in the present. All together I think Dickens's work is very well thought out and the characters very realistic. ...read more.

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