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How does Charles Dickens convey character and atmosphere in three or four chosen extracts of his novel Great Expectations?

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Introduction

Great Expectations GCSE English Coursework How does Charles Dickens convey character and atmosphere in three or four chosen extracts of his novel Great Expectations? For this assignment I have chosen to analyse the following chapters: Chapter 1, Chapter 8 and Chapter 20 (Volume 2 Chapter 1) of the novel. I will look at how Dickens uses language to build up atmospheres in these chapters and how Dickens' characters are conveyed using his inspiring writing techniques. I shall start by looking at Chapter 1. At the very start of the book, Dickens starts building an atmosphere, which is a one of sympathy for the main character named Pip. He does this by telling the reader about Pip's family and how only him and his sister are alive. As this is in the first person, narrated by Pip, the sympathy is more of a personal one. Quotes such as, 'As I never...from their tombstones.' and 'To five little...that universal struggle' in paragraph one use quite child-like ideas to convey Pip as a younger character and at that age quite ignorant of his family. Dickens shows Pip at the start of the chapter as a small boy mourning his parents' and brother's deaths in a dark and lonely churchyard. ...read more.

Middle

'She was dressed...the looking-glass.' Everything that should have been white had turned yellow and all the clocks had stopped at twenty to nine. This is because she had received a letter at twenty to nine on her wedding day as she was preparing, from her fianc� telling her that he wouldn't be attending. She had not changed or seen the sunlight since that day for thirty or forty years. Her character is very strange indeed. She despises all men and she teaches Estella to do the same. Apart from that she is very mysterious. Dickens shows her to be very eccentric, 'I noticed that Miss Havisham put down the jewel exactly on the spot from which she had taken it up.' Also she has 'sick fancies'. One of these is to watch Pip play. 'I sometimes have..."play, play, play!"' As he does not know how or what to play, Miss Havisham calls Estella to play cards with him. Dickens' descriptions of miss Havisham are wonderfully detailed so you can get a firm image of an old woman sat in torn discoloured clothes in her chair looking at herself in a looking-glass Estella is Miss Havisham's ward. This chapter doesn't tell much of her background but nevertheless gives a great impression of her character. ...read more.

Conclusion

Jaggers is a very busy person. Dickens uses a very interesting method to convey Mr. Jaggers' character. This is through his own environment. There is a very grand description of Mr. Jaggers' office at the start of the chapter. 'Mr. Jaggers's room...and went out.' The room is described as having 'a most dismal place; the skylight, eccentrically patched like a broken head'. There aren't so many papers about but a lot of strange objects. For example, Pip picks out 'an old rusty pistol, a sword in a scabbard, several strange looking boxes and packages and two dreadful casts on a shelf, of faces peculiarly swollen, and twitchy about the nose.' Dickens has also included a quite disgusting image of the wall opposite Jaggers' desk being greasy from intimidated clients backing their shoulders against it. The whole description of the room shows Jaggers as being terrifying and intimidating. Especially as Pip says 'he seemed to bully his sandwich as he ate it'. The overall atmosphere of this chapter as with the other chapters I have looked at is a menacing and intimidating one with Dickens using the idea of the houses peering into Jaggers' room to look at Pip and Jaggers himself being overly harsh to his clients. His name creates an impression of something deathly as well. The haunting atmosphere in Mr. Jaggers' room is even enough to make Pip want to leave. ...read more.

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