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Great Expectations

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GCSE Assignment 'Great Expectations' Write about how Dickens gives the reader a sense of tension and mystery in the opening of 'Great Expectations'. Charles Dickens, the author of 'Great Expectations', uses many different ways and different methods of building up tension and mystery in the setting. He uses a variety of techniques to give the graveyard, the marshes and miss Havisham's house mysterious feelings and give them a sense of darkness and Gothic horror. Dickens uses a semantic field to bring the effect of one specific subject, which in this case is revolving around death. Many phrases that Dickens uses are to do with death and skeletons. In the graveyard, where Pip meets the convict, Charles describes the convict escaping as dead hands reaching up at him, 'eluding the hands of the dead people, stretching up cautiously out of their graves'. This adds tension because it adds more effect to the fact that he is actually a convict, and it's meaning is that he's escaping death, which is shown through him escaping the hands of the dead people. The phrase also holds horrific imagery because it's like you're seeing dead people's hands which adds to the 'Gothic horror' part of the story. Dickens also builds the semantic field up more using phrases such as the word 'tombstone' and 'five little stone lozenges'. 'Five little stone lozenges' adds tension to the fact that Pip is the only one still alive out of his brothers. This builds the tension up because the reader will begin to wonder why he out of his brothers is still alive, and whether something is going to happen to him or not. This technique gives the reader a great fear for Pip, and will make them feel sorry for him. 'Tombstone' is used in the opening scene to introduce the reader to the graveyard and also helps give an idea about what the graveyard is like. ...read more.


This adds tension because it causes the reader to wonder why the passages are actually dark, and while only a single candle was burning, and also, what is so important about this house that two chains were hung across the front entrance. The two phrases kind of address the fact that the house is isolated and lonely, away from everything else, and the two chains separate it from the rest of the world, as if it were in it's own planet. The darkness explained by the passages being dark portrays a Gothic and dark tradition to the story, giving the lady a Gothic vibe. This adds tension because it means that she could evil or mean. The candle burning is an artificial light. This adds pathetic fallacy, meaning that the house is artificial and dark, with no natural sunlight to show through the house. Mrs Havisham is given a strange description, which adds to the mystery, by giving her factors such as everything surrounding her being white, and a lot of chaos around. White means that something is pure, and gives something a virgin theme. White also represents weddings, and when you learn about Mrs Havisham's unfortunate history, you realise why there's white surrounding her representing weddings. Giving the room a chaotic description, which is given by using the phrase 'chaos - her handkerchief, some flowers, a prayer book - confusedly heaped about the looking glass' adds more to her personality, which adds to the mysterious part of the story. It adds to her personality giving her a chaotic feel, and threatens people around her, mainly Pip in general. But considering she has a chaotic feel, all the white around her had turned yellow. This is because it signifies ageing and things fading away. It represents that the purity within her has gone and the only thing left in her is bitter and old. ...read more.


An imperative verb is basically a verbal command. The use of one makes it seem obvious that there is a need to do something. The author uses imperative verbs when Pip meets the convict. He gives the convict dialogue to say to Pip, which tells him to do things for him, such as "You get me a file", and "Now", which he says almost like there's no other choice and Pip HAS to do it. It is a command that he must do, and which he must obey, so if the convict had said something a little more politely then Pip probably wouldn't have got him anything. The fact that imperative verbs are said very harshly by the character, makes it seem even more like it must be done, and added to the convicts character, it makes it seem like it even more. Miss Havisham also has a role in using imperative verbs. She uses imperative verbs to Pip to command him to do something, more and more helping to break his heart. The words that she uses are "Call Estella" and "Come nearer". The way she says this very harshly gives her the authority over Pip, and will easily command him to do something. When both the convict and Miss Havisham use imperative verbs, it gives them the superiority over the other characters, leaving Pip innocent and helpless. Charles uses another writing technique that adds the tension, this is by using a juxtaposition. A juxtaposition is where the writer uses two words or two phrases, together which contrast against each other, such as "weird smile". This is a juxtaposition because weird is a quite negative word, meaning strange, whereas smile is a positive word meaning happy and good. It creates the tension this way because the writer gives you a reason to think about the text, and to make you think about what he means. It gets the reader involved, and makes the reader carry on reading because they need to find out what he means by this. ...read more.

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