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Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

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Introduction

Great Expectations - Charles Dickens Year 10 Essay Charles Dickens' classic novel Great Expectations was, in its day, a pioneering tale viewed through the eyes of the narrator Phillip Pirrip, who introduces himself to us as Pip. In the first chapter Dickens sets the scene with the misty marshes and opens it into Pip's humble beginnings and the twists of fate that will follow throughout the story and the way his expectations change from boyhood to adult life. In the first paragraph we are introduced to Pip, the central character of the story. The metaphorical significance of his name is also important, the pip is the start of a fruit and it grows into something bearing great potential. While Pip grows, so do his expectations and his potential for bearing good or bad fruit. From the opening words you know that he is the narrator and the central part of the story. The paragraph is short but its significance barely registers on a conscious level because already you have been drawn into the second paragraph and initially the rest of the book. In the second paragraph we begin to learn more about Pip's family. He tells us in an almost comical way how he imagines his parents and his five brothers to have been when they were alive and the only thing he has of them are their gravestones to look at. ...read more.

Middle

What actually happens is that Magwich picks Pip up and turns him upside down in order to empty his pockets. Dickens describes the way Pip saw it: - "When the church came to itself - for he was so sudden and strong that he made it go head over heels before me, and I saw the steeple under my feet" Immediately you feel a smile come to your lips. The way it's put so beautifully seen through the eyes of a child - as if it is the world and not Pip that has turned upside down. This is a seemingly unimportant part but after reading the rest of the book you realise the significance of this is that Magwich is the one to turn Pip's world upside down and take him out of the poor existence he should have had and into the world of the Gentry. Magwich is shown to think with his feet rather that his head. When he thinks Pip's mother is near by Dickens writes: - "He started, mad a short run, and stopped and looked over is shoulder." You can see the way that Magwich is on edge and does not have time to think about things but merely time to save his own skin. His way of using actions rather than thought is shown again in this part: - " 'Blacksmith, eh?' ...read more.

Conclusion

The whole mood of the chapter has changed from fairly comical and light hearted to deep, dark, dismal thoughts. Dickens has changed it so you do not notice it has changed - even though the change is a dramatic one. At first, even though Pip was voicing sad facts to us about his family the mood was not a serious one but as we gradually go through the comic and frightening moments, we end up at this dismal depressing point to finish on. The expectations Pip might draw from this encounter are not the ones he concludes later on in the story because at this point he is very young but this affects him enough to have a lasting impact. He would most likely be frightened for his life if the young man comes to find him but I think he's knows in the back of his mind that Magwich will be kind to him if he obeys his orders. Pip's expectations do not really accumulate until later in the story but for a first chapter an awful lot has happened and you are so drawn into the story that you have to read on and find out what happened to Pip and ultimately to the convict Magwich. ...read more.

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