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Great Expectations: a thematic analysis

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Great Expectations: As the reader begins the book, Dickens instills in the reader a bond with Pip as it is through his eyes in a first person narrative. Dickens' use of Pip as the narrator is very significant to the telling of the story. We are able to see the progression of Pip as he grows up and his views on the characters in the book. We form an idea about someone from their outward appearance, so having Pip as a narrator it creates a one-sided view about a character because we only see the world from Pip's eyes and we feel most strongly what Pip is feeling and we feel, about other character what Pip feels about them. Dickens creates sympathy by telling the reader that Pip has never seen his mother & father, instead he sits on their graves trying to find clues that reflect their appearance and personality. Pip at this point is trying to emphasize that his father is superior to his mother, as the antithesis is shown with Joe and his sister. Dickens also tries to make the reader feel sympathy by referring to Pip's name. On one level his name shows how isolated Pip is, this empathize that Pip created his own nickname. However on a symbolic level his name 'Pip' represents the start of life, a seed, as it grows toward its fate. Dickens is trying to emphasize to the reader the solitude of Pip, by using extended sentence structure to increase the tension and prolong the suffering. He also restates that Pip is all alone by using repetition on the word 'dead', implicating the loss of 5 of Pip's siblings, as they died before they were born. The prolonged sentence structure also leads to an ominous word 'savage lair'. This pathetic fallacy foreshadows the encounter which will make Pip's life a lot worse. When Magwitch is first introduced, a sad and lonely atmosphere is already established. ...read more.


Miss Havisham's dialogue is also used to create her character she may not have an accent or dialect but because of her social status we can imagine her having an affected voice. It is what she says to Pip that is the most important. This explains some of her odd behaviour and gives us an insight into her past. We can see an example of this when she addresses Pip. "What do I touch?" "Your heart" "Broken!" As well as giving us insight to the plot we can notice that Miss Havisham is very melodramatic when she speaks of her past and that enhances her character. Although Dickens makes us believe that Miss Havisham is the villain, certain phrases suggest that she is looking for some affection 'I want to see some play'. However it seems that this isn't the case, as Miss Havisham seems only keen on trying to break men's hearts 'Well! You can break his heart'. The social content of the game that Pip and Estella start to play, shows that he is worthless 'beggar my neighbour'. And it pre-empts the outcome of the game, as still yet Pip isn't able to reach the stars and beat Estella. He is undermined and lured into Miss Havisham trap. Dickens uses words like 'brooding expression' to emphasise to the reader that Miss Havisham enjoys this fraudulent scheme. Miss Havisham tries to manipulate Pip and Estella also suggests her character is very strange. Miss Havisham subjugates and patronises Pip. She makes Pip admit his feelings towards Estella after Estella had made fun of him. Miss Havisham embarrasses him. She does this to make him feel small, stupid and unimportant as a man and to increase Estelle's pride. Miss Havisham emasculates him- she takes away his masculinity. Before Pip leaves she arranges for him to come back again. "I know nothing of days of the week; I know nothing of weeks of the year. ...read more.


Also instead of extravagant metaphors like in Miss Havisham death, Dickens uses simply text and metaphors like 'white ceiling'. The white ceiling metaphor is symbolic that Magwitch will go to heaven and also implies that Magwitch isn't grey anymore. Subsequently, Dickens is also illustrating that Magwitch and Miss Havisham are both white symbolizing that there are both in the same society in death. Dickens also relates this phrase to Pip and Magwitch; however he gives the suggesting that Pip respects Magwitch more 'Dear Magwitch' unlike at the beginning. And then Dickens beautifully ends Magwitch's death by Pip saying 'O Lord, be merciful to him, a sinner' illustrating Dickens's message to society that no one shouldn't be labeled for life. In conclusion, Dickens makes the characters striking because in Great Expectations he is trying to protest against social injustice. He uses stereotypical characters, like Magwitch, with exaggerated features to help the reader remember them and remember the message that he is trying to convey. Dickens also uses very descriptive language to great effect. It makes the reader feel as if they were actually in Victorian times with the characters. This is demonstrated in Pip's first meeting with Magwitch, where the language used creates a picture for the reader so that we can believe that we are there. Magwitch's appearance mirrors the cold, grey lonely marsh so we can also remember characters because we associate them with places. This is shown with Miss Havisham, as her surroundings mirror the she way looks, acts, and are quite unusual so are memorable. I think that the most important factor for making a character striking is the first description of them. Dickens makes the reader remember the character by using very powerful descriptions when we very first meet them in the book. It immediately grabs the readers attention and makes them want to investigate and find out more about the character. ...read more.

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