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Great Expectations - Analyse how Dickens maintains suspense in Chapter 39

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Introduction

Discuss the ways in which Dickens creates and maintains suspense in Chapter 39 of 'Great Expectations'. 'Great Expectations' is a novel written by Charles Dickens. First published in weekly instalments for a magazine that was losing readers, called 'All Year Round', it was soon fully released in 1851 after the magazine gained more notability. The novel also seems to be semi auto-biographical, as Dickens own personal experiences of the world are portrayed in the character 'Pip'. The character Magwitch, an escaped convict was also influenced by Dickens' own family, as his father was sent to prison for debt. From 1776 - 1857, 'Hulks' were prison ships used to transport prisoners to Australia. Magwitch was on a Hulk, but Dickens father was not. Dickens own county, Kent, inspired the Marshes and location for the beginning of the novel. The Victorian Times was period where London was unhealthy, people were poor, depressed and social classes was strict. 'Great Expectations' featured these type of people, such as Miss Havisham who lived in a dirty mansion and who was depressed. Child exploitation and abuse was also prominent in this period and characters such as Pip, were abused by his own older sister. 'Great Expectations' is a novel filled with suspense, tension and a slight of horror, which audiences in the Victorian period enjoyed. ...read more.

Middle

The effect of this is to add more emotion to the atmosphere. Another word technique Dickens uses is Similies, an example is, "Like discharges of cannon", which helps the reader understand further what Dickens is writing about. Visual images play a big role in making Chapter 39 stand out and seem more scary. Dickens uses sea imagery, such as, "Breakings of a sea", "Storm-beaten light-house" and "Voyager by the sea". These are all references to the sea, that remind us of Magwitch, who escaped from a Hulk. The mention of "shipwreck and death", creates a horror feeling, In which Victorian readers loved. They could all be clues to tell the reader that Magwitch is on his way to Pip's home. It all creates suspense and mystery, and readers would be engaged in to the chapter. As well as visual images, colour adjectives help create colour imagery. Dickens uses, "Black windows" and "Red-hot splashes in the rain". Readers can visualise these images in their mind, and this creates suspense. Dickens also makes little references to other parts of the novel and characters, which readers can visualise. The word "veil" is used as a metaphor, but it could also be to describe Miss Havisham, who wears a veil. Dickens then gives Magwitch the action of, "Holding out both his hands to me", which could be a reference to the first chapter, where Magwitch holds out his hands to beg for food. ...read more.

Conclusion

To do this, at the beginning, Dickens sets the scene with, "It was wretched weather; stormy and wet, stormy and wet". As the scene unravels slowly with, "Violent blasts of rain" and "Smoke came rolling down the chimney", the audience can feel the tension. As the churches struck eleven o'clock, Pip, "heard a footstep on the stair". An unknown footstep creates the beginning of a tense moment of the chapter. As soon as Pip starts talking to the unknown man, who is Magwitch, the dialogue between them is quick and short. This creates tension for the reader, as well as the two characters. Chapter 39 has also been positioned near the center of the novel, because this is the important part of Pip's life, where he finds out that Magwitch is his benefactor. It can be concluded that Dickens has effectively built up suspense throughout the chapter with his own style and skill of writing. His word techniques have been carefully crafted into his complex sentences. The chapter slowly releases more and more detail out to help keep the reader engaged, which maintains the suspense. My favourite and tense part of the chapter is when Pip hears the unknown footstep, because Dickens has built up the atmosphere in the previous paragraph, and a unknown footstep keeps me in a tense mood. To conclude, 'Great Expectations' is a powerful, and yet, unique novel which has been carefully thought-out to attract readers. ...read more.

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