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Great Expectations

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Introduction

Name: Mark Burgess Date: 26/03/07 Task: Are the opening two chapters of Great Expectations effective? How does Dickens ensure his readers both Victorian and contemporary, continue to read the novel? Text: Great Expectations by Charles Dickens In this essay I will be exploring how Dickens ensures that his readers would continue to read the novel after the first instalment. Great Expectations was written in the Victorian period by Charles Dickens, by choosing to release his novel in instalments Dickens had to have a very successful and engaging opening instalment. The novel depended on the success of the opening chapters to make a profit. The Victorian reader was also a big factor in the direction of the novel as Dickens had not yet finished writing the book when the first instalment was released. He could use the feedback off the Victorian reader to make the book more popular and successful; the book was a hit and still is. Dickens uses the first two chapters to establish main themes that will run throughout the book; he hints at what they might be and entices the reader to go on. Themes such as crime, matriarchal power and isolation, these themes plant a seed in the readers mind to start them thinking of how they will affect the rest of the novel. The first two chapters are also used to give important information such as the fact that Pip is an orphan who lives with his sister and her husband. ...read more.

Middle

readers this would be enough of a hook to encourage the reader to go on, and in the Victorian reader's case buy the next instalment. A good example of Dickens wit and humour is also evident in the first instalment, a theme that continues through the book especially towards the start of the novel and in lightening tough issues about abuse and bullying, such as when Pip says 'she was not a good looking woman, my sister; and I had a general impression she must have made Joe Gargery marry her by hand.' There are many jokes about beating and bullying thrown in; I think Dickens has done this because the Victorian reader would be able to relate to it and have a little giggle about a serious issue, taking the weight off it. This would keep the Victorian reader engaged. Dickens often turns to humour when tackling a serious issue because the book is not intended to be a horror so humour is needed. The main themes in the novel are very cleverly started in the opening instalment, planting the seed that will grow into something more in the readers mind. The main themes in the opening two chapters are manipulation. Crime, matriarchal power and isolation. Isolation is the first theme that is visited in the novel, it is first visited by Pip in the graveyard whilst looking at the gravestones and thinking about his dead and buried relatives. ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens cleverly uses a cliff hanger here just as we are beginning to get into the book. This is affective in ensuring both Victorian and contemporary readers continue to read on as there is still so much more you want to know and find out. The way Dickens uses action with the convict and the ending really gets people excited, this is just what Dickens wanted and he has excelled in getting the hook that with encourage people to buy the next instalment well and truly stuck in the mouths of the readers. In conclusion the opening two chapters are a real mind field of information action and questions. Questions such as who is the convict? Why is he a convict? Will Pip give the convict the food? What will the consequences of Pip's actions be? How long will Pip put up with the abuse he endures from Mrs Joe? These are just a few of the questions raised by Dickens; these alone would be enough to get me to read on and probably many other contemporary readers. Victorian readers would be begging for the next instalment, Dickens has succeeded. There are many other things that would entice the reader to go on not just the questions raised, such as the characters, atmosphere, setting, language, humour, enthralling themes and the cliff hanger. All of these factors of the book are a real asset to it and make this book a real hit in my eyes and many other eyes. ...read more.

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