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great expectations

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16th November 2006 How effective is the opening chapter of 'Great Expectations'? The novel 'Great Expectations' was written by the much admired Charles Dickens. It was firstly written in a weekly series for a magazine and finally published into book form in 1861. Dickens' childhood influenced his writing to a great extent. At a very young age his father was imprisoned for failure to pay debts. This meant that Charles was sent to work in a blacking factory, living his life in poverty and adversity. Dickens had much compassion for the lower classes, especially children and this is shown in many of his books. In the first chapter of 'Great Expectations' we see Dickens' childhood reflected into the main character of his novel, Pip. The story begins with Pip in a graveyard when a convict approaches him. To make a successful opening it must immediately grab the readers' attention and make them want to read on by using a narrative hook. Dickens has done this skilfully by using certain aspects such as language and vivid characters to make it effective. Pip is firstly introduced into 'Great Expectations' when in a graveyard visiting the grave stones of his parents and five brothers. Even though the reader does not know much about Pip at this point, they are made to feel sympathetic towards him as he has lost the majority of his family. ...read more.


Another point which makes the reader believe he is an escaped convict is when he turns Pip upside-down to see if he has any food. This may be considered as stealing and it is something that a criminal would do. It also resembles the way in which Magwitch has turned Pip's life upside-down although he may not know this at this point. Additionally, it says that Magwitch eats the bread (found in Pip's pockets) 'ravenously' which also implies that he may be hungry again suggesting he may be on the run. Magwitch speaks in non-standard English for example, 'Or a eel!' This creates the impression that he may not have been educated. and it contrasts with the way Pip is speaking. Magwitch's speech is written phonetically. Dickens has done this to show his accent and his class position in society. This additionally shows that he may not have been well educated. Throughout the chapter Magwitch appears to be a terrifying character. From the moment he is first introduced into the novel, he is very aggressive towards Pip. We first see him threatening Pip when he says, 'Keep still you little devil, or I'll cut your throat!' Dickens has done this early in the chapter so that the reader will know he is going to be intimidating throughout. Magwitch uses lots of imperatives when speaking to Pip. ...read more.


Alliteration is used to slow down the pace of the novel, 'Low leaden line'. This contrasts with the shorter, faster sentences, helping to create fear and panic in the reader for instance, 'Hold Your Noise!' Pip's name has been cleverly selected as it suggests something that starts off small and progresses into something very big and successful. Use of the third person, 'The small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip,' helps to show that Pip is now older again and is telling the story retrospectively. Certain aspects of the language help us to identify the personality of the characters. For example, the polite language Pip uses makes reader think that he is a kind, young boy. On the other hand, Magwitch is quite the opposite. In conclusion, I believe the opening chapter of the novel is very effective . It makes the reader able to feel as though they are a part of the story by using several different techniques such as descriptive settings and unique language. His characters are very memorable and he uses interesting language keeping the reader interested in the story and to understand the feelings and thoughts of the two protagonists . Finally, to conclude the opening chapter he uses a narrative hook leaving the reader feeling tense and wondering what will happen next, making them want to read on ?? ?? ?? ?? Centre No. 34369 Emma Barrow 10M ...read more.

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