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How Charles Dickens Creates Characters That Are Both Memorable and Striking.

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Introduction

How Charles Dickens Creates Characters That Are Both Memorable and Striking One of Charles Dickens' greatest strengths is his ability to create characters that are both believable and memorable. Dickens appealed to all classes of society: to intellectuals and simple folk alike. In 'Great Expectations', which was published as a weekly serial, examples of his strengths fill the novel, and this is perhaps why 'Great Expectations' has remained as popular now as it was when it was first written. It was not until 1823 that Charles and his family moved to London from Portsmouth. Up until this time he had a happy family life and was doing well at school, already he was a great reader. However life in London was very different, the family had no money, Dickens could not go to school and his father was imprisoned for debt. At the age of eleven he had to work in a shoe-blacking factory and this left a long lasting impression. This experience was relatively short-lived, the family situation improved and he was able to return back to school from there to working in a lawyers office, teaching himself shorthand. By the age of twenty he had become an established newspaper reporter and started to write short stories in his spare time as well as directing and acting in amateur dramatics. Even by his mid twenty's Dickens' ability to absorb and portray information was remarkable. ...read more.

Middle

Although sometimes he feels guilty about this, he still acts this way. Moving to London and meeting Herbert Pocket again inspires Pip to be more like him, a young gentleman. However, Pip leaves behind one of the only true gentlemen in the novel Joe Gargery is a blacksmith who is married to Pip's sister. "A giant of a man, with fair hair curly hair and mild blue eyes." Joe is an honest, kind and simple man who becomes a father figure to Pip. Throughout the novel he is one of, the few characters who does not really change. Joe shows the dignity and strength of a gentleman as he is still loyal to Pip, despite Pip's neglect of Joe. He is able to accept his wife's harsh personality without showing his true feelings and he finds it difficult to stand up to her strong will. Although partly educated, he is always willing to learn, and is very proud at Pip's good fortune, and is happy to stay in the background whilst Pip is in London receiving his training to 'become a gentleman'. Miss Havisham is a bitter old woman whose heart and mind are as decaying as the house in which she lives. When Pip first meets Miss Havisham '...the strangest lady I have ever seen...' she is wearing ancient yellowed bridal clothes and he notices that everything in the room is gloomy, faded and old. ...read more.

Conclusion

Most of the major characters in 'Great Expectations' are of dynamic creation - their personalities undergo transformation as the plot unfolds. Only one of the two endings really fit the story. The ending for some characters are suitable for the way they were throughout the novel. Miss Havisham burned to death when her wedding dress caught light. The way she dies also makes you feel sorry for her, but it also makes you think that she does deserve a damaging death for the way she destroyed people mentally during her life. Magwitch on the other hand dies happy knowing that he has helped Pip to become a gentleman. On Magwitch's death bed Pip tells him that he is madly in love with Estella, the daughter he thought was dead. These are examples of two of the characters that died in a manner suiting to how they had lived. It seems to me that all of the characters in 'Great Expectations' that received injustices, were all compensated in some way. For example Joe finds happiness with Biddy, and Magwitch dies a content man. This also happens the other way round to the unpleasant characters such as Miss Havisham. I think the original ending Dickens planned really fits the novel better because Pip and Estella had such different personalities that long lasting happiness between then is probably impossible. The characters and moods that Charles Dickens created over a hundred years ago, remain as fascinating and interesting as when 'Great Expectations' was first written. Sam Parsons Page 1 ...read more.

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