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Great Expectations

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Introduction

"Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens Task: "How does the novel present Pip's relationship with Magwitch, when he meets him in the graveyard and later when Magwitch returns form abroad to see Pip?" 'Great Expectations' is a novel that is set in the late 1860's, in Victorian society, during the start up of the industrial revolution, which was speedily changing society. In chapter 1 of 'Great Expectations', the reader meets a young boy, 'Phillip Pirrip', although he is known as 'Pip', due to the reason that he can't pronounce his full name. The fact that this issue is introduced to the reader right at the beginning of the story, and that the story is narrated by Pip and his own 'voice', is attention grabbing; his youthful innocence and naivety is interesting, and immediately gets the reader close to the character. Dickens introduces Pip at a graveyard, where he sets the scene. Pip is visiting the graves of his deceased family, trying to find his identity as well as remind himself and imagine what his parents looked like. Pip is an image of vulnerability, and this is a target for ambiguity to come. Dickens does not state that Pip is an orphan; instead he allows his powerful use of words to demonstrate this. "My first fancies regarding what they were like, were reasonably derived from their tombstones. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair... 'Also Georgina wife of above', I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly." Dickens introduces Pip's childish imagination into the sequence. Dickens implies that Victorian life and society was like this; there were masses of orphans, like Pip, due to numerous epidemics sweeping the nation, diseases like cholera and smallpox which were rife, and regarded as a 'universal struggle', this resulted in high mortality rates. ...read more.

Middle

Their relationship is still developing, and there has been a rapid shift since their first encounter the previous day, where a whirlwind of violence, and tension was displayed. Since the morning their relationship and attitude has turned into something more meaningful-loyalty has been conjured up; Proving that Magwitch must have been really touched when he was shown kindness from Pip. Criminals like Magwitch were pushed to the bottom of society. It was rare to see any affection shown towards them, as they were treated so badly. Magwitch shows emotion when kindness is shown to him from Pip and Joe. "The something I had noticed before, clicked in the man's throat again, and he turned his back". Magwitch's turn around implies that he doesn't really want to show his 'softer' emotions, this may be because criminals were believed to be 'hard' and their emotions weren't taken into consideration, as if they lacked them. Pip decides not to confide in Joe about his own part in the theft either; this signifies the start of a break between them. Chapter 18/19 is a link between the first stage of Pips 'Great Expectations' and the third stage. Pip is in the 4th year of Pip's apprenticeship to Joe. A stranger unexpectedly approaches with bullying legal manners. The stranger is Jaggers, a London Lawyer, who announces that Pip has inherited 'great expectations' and therefore great fortune from a mysterious benefactor. He will now have to leave the forge and be educated as a gentleman. Pip is warned that the terms of the contract. He must not seek to know the name of the benefactor, and must also keep his nickname of 'Pip'. This reminds us that there will be continuity between the apprentice and the gentleman. Due to circumstantial evidence Pip assumes, and is convinced that Miss Havisham is his benefactor. (Miss Havisham is a wealthy spinster, turned fanatical and cruel, after being jilted on her wedding day. ...read more.

Conclusion

The story takes the reader through an insight into Pip's maturation from child to adult, the fact that the narrative is looked upon with a critical analysis, makes this clearer. He feels guilty about what has occurred and what he has done. Behaviour wise, he rejected him 'humble origins', Joe and Biddy who showed him nothing but love and affection. He comes to terms with the fact that his ambitious 'great expectations' have led him to loneliness and disappointment. Pip discovers that his life is in his hands. Many events have taken place such as forgiving Ms Havisham, Magwitch eventually being hung for escaping from exile, and discovering that he has a daughter, Estella, and that Pip is going to marry her, they have definitely have had a turn on perceptions. Pip decides to return to his 'humble origins' in the symbol of Joe and Biddy, who gladly accept him again. Pip then gains a 'middle ground' job, and makes an honest and decent living, which he is truly pleased and grateful to have it is a rags-to-riches-to-grace tale. The morals that the story is wrapped up in the story.Dickens uses his writing as a tool to explain his criticisms of the various facets of Victorian life. They are attacks on social evils, injustice and hypocrisy. Dickens is making a point about Pip and the attitudes of a 'gentleman' that he has acquired. Dickens helps to justify, and show that being a gentleman doesn't just necessarily mean having a lot of money/education etc. Most importantly, 'a true gentleman' must have good morals/principles, not just wear 'fancy clothing'. His aim is to shed light on this issue, and hopes that the reader sees this; different styles of writing are woven together to make this a novel to capture a wide audience. Dickens succeeds in splitting our sympathies between Pip and Magwitch (the convict). We learn that an outcast (in many ways) may still be capable of courage, endurance and gratitude. ...read more.

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