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"Great Expectations opens unforgettably in a twilit and overgrown churchyard on the eerie Kent marshes"

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Introduction

HOW DOES THE OPENING CHAPTER OF 'GREAT EXPECTATIONS' SERVE AS AN EFFECTIVE INTRODUCTION TO THE NOVEL? The first chapter immediately involves the reader because of Pip's terrifying encounter with the convict and the humour with which the chapter is infused. Dickens skilfully introduces several major themes in it. Dickens uses very descriptive sentences in the opening of the book and builds up a suspense opening. This gets the reader to read more and find out what happens. Pip is about seven years old when the novel opens. He begins the story as a young orphan boy being raised by his sister and brother-in-law in the marsh country of Kent, in the southeast of England. Pip is introduced to us as a child who has gone through sorrowful incidence in his very young childhood. He lost both his parents and all his brothers. Dickens immediately gains sympathy for Pip because his name suggests innocence and childishness. 'Immediately, Pip tells us his name which has been shortened because his 'infant tongue' cannot cope with Phillip Pirrup'. The reader is instantly engaged because the narrator is a small, vulnerable child. This makes us, the audience feel sorry for him. Dickens skilfully catches the reader's attention and sympathy in the first few pages, introduces several major themes, creates a mood of mystery in a lonely setting, and gets the plot moving immediately. ...read more.

Middle

There are various ways by which Pip is connected to criminality as the novel progresses but the first chapter sets us up with a frame of mind and prepares to introduce us to crime and punishment by the first impressions of Magwitch. This is pretty obvious; because he has escaped from prison, but why and how will come later. There is also a sign of loneliness in the novel as Magwitch and Pip both have one thing in common; they are both fairly lonely which is why you don't expect to see these people embrace each other later on in the book. Their similarities become a factor that creates harmony between these two characters and also because of Pips generosity in the first meeting between the convict and Pip. Pip is alone, physically alone in the cemetery and solitary in being an orphan; his aloneness prefigures the isolation he will experience later in the novel. His illusions about his family's tombstones are comic and convincing as the sort of misreading that a child might make; they also introduce the theme of failure to communicate. Due to the fact that Pip has never seen his parents and has to visualise the way they look from their tombstones. "My first fancies of what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tomb stones". ...read more.

Conclusion

Dickens has chosen appropriate and appealing speech for the both characters and the narrator in the first chapter; this is the reason why I and other readers are kept gripped to the book. This is proved through Pips language and speech where you can tell that he is scared after meeting the convict because of the jittery speech that Dickens has written for him, this is effective because when people are scared they tend to stutter a lot. 'Goo-good night sir' This is an example of Pips jittery speech. On the other hand, the convict is illiterate and the opposite of Pip because he uses strong hard-hitting language. 'That young man has a secret way pecooliar to himself' 'And you know what wittles is?' 'And if I han't a mind to't!' These are examples of the way Magwitch speaks. His speech is written phonetically to show us that he has an accent to his speech. Dickens made crime a very effective point to the novel because he began to suggest that criminals were not just people who were wicked or evil, but people who were forced into crime because of circumstances. For example poverty or lack of opportunities, he believed this maybe because his dad was prosecuted for a unnecessary reason. Therefore dickens opposed the death penalty, arguing that taking someone's life did nothing to prevent crime. Abdul Memon ...read more.

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