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Great expectations

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"Great Expectations" essay In this essay, I am going to look at the ways in which Dickens uses language to create themes, characters and the settings of the novel, focusing on the opening chapter. I will also look into the social context of the story and the historical context, referring to how it accurately represents the lives of those in the time it was written. I will finally be able to look at how the novel is still relevant to modern society and therefore still has a great social context with life today. Charles Dickens was born on February 12th 1812. He was one of eight children. His parent's became greatly in debt and because of this Dickens struggled as a 19th century, working class boy. He always dreamed that one day he might be able to improve himself and become a gentleman. Dickens has clearly portrayed a lot of himself in the character of Pip as he too had the same aspirations and dreams to become one of the upper class. Dickens's family were all sent to debtor's prison and he was forced to work from a very young age. This too bears great resemblance to the life and work of Pip. Dickens also reflected a lot of his own life in other books that he has written including people and events that he has encountered throughout his life. A perfect example of this that of Bob Fagin from "Oliver Twist", another of Dickens' famous novels, who is based on a man that Charles met when he was working in the shoe polish factory to support his family. As a child, Dickens had a passion for literature and spent much of his time reading fairytales and adventures and then later on, works by Shakespeare and Henry Fielding who both greatly influenced his own work. He began to write when he first became a newspaper reporter at the age of 20. ...read more.


This gives the impression that the atmosphere is dull and depressing as well as quite empty and desolate. One of the methods that Dickens uses in the description of the setting is to use it as a metaphor for Pip's life. Dickens describes the marsh as being a "dark, flat wilderness". Here the marsh is supposed to represent Pip's life. The fact that it is flat suggests that there is no change in his life and everything is constant. The darkness suggests that his life is quite sad and depressing but also that he has no expectations in life and it is unlikely due to the flatness that any expectations will ever appear. Finally the way that Dickens describes the marsh as a wilderness suggests that while Pip's life is flat and without expectations, it is not easy. He struggles with many things in his life and therefore it is like a wilderness that he is trying to find his way out of. This is a form of Pathetic fallacy. This is where the writer uses the settings to reflect how a character is feeling and therefore create an overall atmosphere for the scene that reflects these feelings and emotions. Dickens continues to use pathetic fallacy throughout the chapter to describe the settings. Later on in the chapter he says how the sky was "a row of angry red lines". This incorporates the methods of both pathetic fallacy and personification. Dickens has given the sky a human emotion and characteristic and this portrays the characters' emotions in the scene. The use of pathetic fallacy here could also have been used as a way of foreshadowing. The angry, red lines could almost be foreshadowing the anger and frustration of Pip in his situation when we have progressed further on in the novel. The use of this pathetic fallacy here shows us that Pip is looking back on the situation from an adult point of view because of the way that the pathetic fallacy links closely to Pip's feelings later on in the story. ...read more.


Dickens was trying to show how you can be happier with not much money than you can with a lot and that the more you have, the more you want. This can be shown when Pip spends so much money that he gets heavily into debt. Through Pip's feelings and emotions at the beginning of the book Dickens makes the reader more aware of how hard it is for someone of a lower class than others and the meeting with Estella and other higher class characters highlights the way that people were treated and discriminated because of their social class and position in society. I think that the most effective way that Dickens has managed to make people aware of this and show that there needed to be a change is the way in which he creates an awful lot of sympathy both for Pip and Magwitch who are the two poorer, main characters. By using Pip as the narrator of the story, he makes the reader feel like the story is much more personal and that they know the character much better and therefore feel affected by the events that take place in his life. Because the story becomes more personal this way, it would be much more effective in creating empathy and sympathy for the characters and therefore raising the awareness of the problems in the social gap in society. I think that while Dickens wrote this story in a bid to make people aware of society in the 19th century, it is still in many ways relevant to modern society and for this reason, contemporary readers would find this interesting and it would appeal to them. While Dickens made an effort to change society through his writing and the social gap in society is no longer as big, it still exists and you are still treated differently depending on your class and position in society. Therefore, Dickens has written a novel that could appeal and be relevant to readers both in his lifetime and around when it was written, up to the present day. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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