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Great Expectations

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How does Dickens' use of setting suit the characters Magwitch and Miss Havisham? Focus particularly on chapters 1, 8 and 11 in your response. Magwitch and Miss Havisham are both significant characters in the novel 'Great Expectations', one of the most popular bildungsroman novels and written by famous Victorian author, Charles Dickens, in 1861. Both characters play an important role in Pip's life; Pip develops a special bond with Magwitch, an escaped convit, whereas Miss Havisham is the heart-broken individual, lost in a world of decay. Who inspires Pip to become a gentleman. Dickens also uses subtle links between these two characters and their setting. Magwitch is introduced to us in chapter one when he meets Pip in an old churchyard (the place of which most of Pip's family is buried, including his mother and father; Magwitch acts as almost a second father to Pip, later on in the novel). Since this chapter of the novel is told from Pip's point of view, Magwitch is described as a fearsome and terrifying character - he was scared of the convict, and so his description of him could be exaggerated (the churchyard alone is quite a scary setting, and this could also be linked to how Magwitch is described). Moments before Pip is confronted by Magwitch, the sea is described as being a '..distant savage lair..'; this creates an image of a deadly, dangerous area, possibly from which Magwitch had come from (he could be a keeper of a bigger secret, hidden within his lair). ...read more.


He has no purpose in his life and is quite unkempt and disordered - until, that is, he meets Pip. The churchyard setting is momentous and Dickens tries to portray that the convict is wanted for death, as the character was described as "..eluding the hand of the dead people.."; this implies that the dead are seeking revenge on him, by pulling him into a grave (towards the end of the novel, Magwitch is hanged for his crimes) or that Magwitch is trying to escape from his past and change his ways; he is avoiding the hands of the people that he may have affected, or killed, during his streak of crime. In chapter eight, Pip meets Miss Havisham - she wants Pip to play with her adopted daughter, Estella, at her house, 'Satis House'. When Pip first sets eyes on her grand house, he notices that her clocks had stopped at 8.40 '..her watch had stopped at twenty minutes to nine..'; this could be a reference to the fact that Miss Havisham's heart is broken - both her clocks have stopped working, and so has her heart (her heart hasn't stopped beating, but Miss Havisham is quite a somewhat evil character, as she toys with Pip's emotions and attempts to break his heart, too), or that she does not want to let go of the past, and that one day, her fianc�e will return and marry her, thus allowing her to ...read more.


could be linked to the way in which Miss Havisham doesn't let too many people get close to her (almost as though she is afraid of warmth -- '..light snow..and it lay nowhere else..' -- and in a later chapter, she is killed in a fire just after apologising to Pip). Also, in this room, '..a fire had been lately kindled..smoke seemed cooler than the cleanest air..', which reinforces Miss Havisham's inability to be engrossed in warmth. In this room is also Miss Havisham's wedding cake; it is described as "..so indistinguishable.."; this could both mean that the cake has just rotted away over many years, and you could not tell by sight that it was a cake, but also how warped and distorted Miss Havisham's personality now is - she is now a bitter and somewhat wicked old lady, whereas she was neither of these things before her fianc�e left her, heart-broken. Miss Havisham says '..this is where I will be laid when I am dead..' - this is quite ironic, since the table on which she will be laid has a table-cloth spread atop it; the very table-cloth that Pip uses to put out the fire as she burns, in a later chapter. To conclude, I would say that Dickens has used a variety of clever, subtle links between the character Magwitch and Miss Havisham, and their settings. Magwitch is a hardened criminal, and the harsh marshes reflect this, whereas Miss Havisham is a decaying old lady, and her house is a decaying ruin. Steven Burnett, 10H ...read more.

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