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Great Expectations Coursework

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Great Expectations Coursework Dickens creates a powerful atmosphere in the first chapter of his famous novel-'Great Expectations' in a variety of ways. but before I begin to analyse Dickens' techniques let me first define what I believe atmosphere to be. Atmosphere is the prevailing mood created by surroundings or surrounding people, for example an atmosphere of anticipation or celebration is created at a football match by crowd chants, music and cheering. The prevailing mood in the opening chapter changes, from a bleak and eerie atmosphere to one of gripping tension. To introduce a bleak atmosphere Dickens describes the marsh country as 'the dark flat wilderness beyond the church yard' Dickens chooses his words very carefully in this phrase to make the marsh country sound bleak and deserted. The word 'wilderness' creates a sense of emptiness among the marsh country, 'dark' is also used well in this sentence as it depicts the marsh country as mysterious. Dickens also refers to the river as a 'low leaden line' his use of alliteration in this description tells us he wants the reader to focus on the river which he implies is dull and lifeless by using the long heavy sounds in his description, e.g. the 'l' in 'long leaden line' It is no surprise that on such a 'raw' afternoon Pip gathers a 'vivid and broad impression of the identity of things' here he is referring to the one expectation we can all count on ... ...read more.


Now returning to the opening chapter, the manor of speaking between Pip and Magwitch is different in many ways, Magwitch's dialect compared to Pips is very poor. Dickens portrays Magwitch as very poorly educated and having a speach impediment, he uses 'w' instead of 'v'. Magwitch also says, 'Pint out the place' using the word 'pint' instead of 'point. This contrasts largely with Pips speech, even in the opening of the chapter the reader is informed of Pips well mannered and polite attitude, but once again, when Magwitch begins to threaten him with the 'slitting of his throat' he still manages to stay well mannered, a prime example of this is the title he continuously gives to Magwitch, namely 'sir', and also when Magwitch says 'what fat cheeks you ha' got' he still stays polite in a narrative sense as he says ' I believe they were fat, though I was at the undersized, for my years, and not strong'. This also adds to the sense of vulnerability that surrounds Pip throughout the chapter, but could also be seen as humour, which Dickens uses to relieve some of the tension created in the opening chapter. At the end of the chapter, Pip looks back on the convict and begins to feel sympathy for him, Pip says Magwitch was 'like a man whose legs were numbed and stiff' this is a good example of why Dickens chose Pip as narrator for the novel, without the first person narrative the reader would not be able to know Pips impressions of Magwitch. ...read more.


Magwitch and Joe are people who Pip had earlier ridiculed, but thanks to them he realises the true values of life. This compares greatly to one of Dickens' most famous novels 'Oliver', in this novel there is a moral message that can be found also in 'Great Expectations'. The two characters relate greatly are Magwitch and Nancy. In 'Oliver' Nancy is a prostitute, a person looked down on in society- this is the first comparison we find that links both Magwitch and Nancy- they are both seen as sinners, people who are looked down on by many people. But in 'Oliver' Nancy becomes a hero, as does Magwitch. She risks her life so that a young orphan named Oliver can live happily, as does Magwitch in 'Great Expectations'. This once again reiterates the message that Dickens was showing us, and that is not to judge people until they have been given an opportunity to show their worth. Pip also admits that he concentrated on making a good impression on the people he likes the least. Instead of making an effort to make a good impression on Joe or Magwitch (the two people who have helped in life) he makes more effort to impress Bentley Drummel, a person who he despises. This links back to how he neglected Joe once he had moved away, to London. To conclude, Dickens' creates his atmosphere in a superb fashion, he uses characters, surroundings and the readers thoughts to create a powerful atmosphere. Magwitch is used to create tension, in his actions and what he says, and Pips vulnerability adds to the sense of tension that surrounds their encounter. ...read more.

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