• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

How does Charles Dickens create an effective opening to Great Expectations?

Extracts from this document...


GCSE English Pre 1914 Literature How does Charles Dickens create an effective opening to 'Great Expectations'? Great Expectations is a story, published in 1860, about a boy called Pip. The story follows Pip's journey from a small, working-class boy, to a distinguished gentleman. Of course, it wouldn't be a story without significant events and characters throughout and Great Expectations doesn't disappoint. Firstly, Pip has a rather uncomfortable encounter with Magwitch, an escaped convict and is forced to steal a pie and some brandy - or 'whittles' - and a file. Magwitch, at first, does not seem to have an important role in the story, but his significance will be revealed. Pip then starts to visit a lady called Miss Haversham and a 'beautiful' girl called Estella. These visits inspire him to become a Gentleman and after six years of being a Blacksmith's apprentice, it is revealed that a secret benefactor has paid for Pip to move to London. After a while, Pip meets an older Estella and his benefactor is revealed as Magwitch. By now, however, Pip has become a snob and is very displeased to see Magwitch. During the rest of the story, further events take place but, eventually, Pip's experiences teach him to become a wiser, kinder and less selfish person. ...read more.


Whereas 'Pip' is very short and sweet, giving the impression that he is friendly, honest and simple, 'Magwitch is quite sharp and evil sounding, with the two syllables in the name maybe hinting at two sides to him. Both of these names effectively reflect the personalities of the characters that they belong to. The character of Pip, as the name suggests, is described as a "small bundle of shivers", as "undersized" and as "not strong". This puts him into comparison with the large, bleak landscape that surrounds him and gives the impression that Pip is lonely, scared and vulnerable. By comparison, Magwitch is described as "a fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg". Unlike Pip, this creates the impression that Magwitch blends into the landscape and does not seem out of place in the bleak, dull surroundings. Magwitch is then thoroughly described as "broken shoes, old rag around his head, soaked, smothered, lamed, cut, stung, torn, limped, shivered, glared, growled and teeth chattered". This long sentence, typical of Victorian literary style, gives a detailed insight into Magwitch's appearance and will allow the readers to create an image in their mind. Also, due to the sentence being fast paced and long, it acts as a build up to the point when Magwitch seizes Pip's throat. ...read more.


It is only when Pip is first grabbed by Magwitch, he "pleaded in terror", but after this he appears very cool and collected. Overall, Charles Dickens has succeeded in creating an effective opening to Great Expectations. The immense detail used in the scene setting makes the story very interesting and helps the reader to create a vivid picture in their mind. It also helps to hook the readers by preparing them for the rest of the story. Significantly, the main reason that the readers will probably read on is because a lot of unanswered questions, such as where might Magwitch come back into the story, are left and will inevitably have their answers revealed later on. Dickens has also succeeded because of his widely contrasting characters of Pip and Magwitch. Themes are also hinted at during the opening chapter. One of these is social class, in that Pip dreams of becoming a gentleman and reveals a path that the story may take later on. Additionally, due to the significance and interesting complexity of Magwitch in the first chapter, you would think that he will also be significant later on in the story. This should give the readers yet another reason to read past the first chapter because most will probably find Magwitch a fascinating character to read about. When all of these techniques come together, it is easy to see that Charles Dickens has created magnificent opening foundations for Great Expectations. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Great Expectations section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Great Expectations essays

  1. Great Expectations Role of Magwitch

    "And that small bundle of shivers growing afraid if it all and beginning to cry, was Pip." This emphasis the fact to the reader that Pip is alone and that he is extremely vulnerable to anyone who is in the graveyard with him.

  2. How does Charles Dickens create sympathy for Pip in the novel Great Expectations?

    long time for things to sink into his small child mind, "A draped table with a gilded looking-glass" The objects described in the scene set-up the image of a dull, scary house. Certainly not the place for a child to be.

  1. Charles Dickens's writing techniques in Great Expectations.

    After Pip realizes that he was wrong about Joe, he goes back to his original views of Joe which stay right through to the end of the novel. Mrs. Joe has a distinctly different impact on Pip which mostly led to Pip's shyness and cowardliness throughout his childhood.

  2. Examine how Dickens deals with the issue of social class in Great Expectations.

    as such; one, the younger, seldom if ever seen in these here transactions, and only suspected; t'other, the elder, always seen in 'em and always wi' his guilt brought home..." Dickens allows Magwitch to explain to Pip the reasons for his downfall in court, even though Compeyson was the true criminal.

  1. Great Expectations

    I personally believe that it is a bit of both that he did not do it all for greed or all from sheer generosity. You can definitely see the greed side of it in the way that he repeatedly exclaims "why look at this" and then upon examining the piece will say "That's a gentleman's I hope".

  2. An exploration of the ways in which issues of class and status are presented ...

    and what her family expects and wants of her, but at the same time weeps openly to Leo at not being able to follow her heart. This tragedy she imparts to Leo, and may well affirm in him social subservience; the dangers of social ambition.

  1. The opening graveyard scene of Charles Dickens ' Great Expectations' has become part of ...

    The sound is used very effectively in this version. It starts off with silence apart from Pip's fast breathing that already tells you he is scared about something, you can hear his feet when he is running on the ground which tells you that he is disparate to get away,

  2. Analysing and explaining Charles Dickens' Great Expectations; Chapter 1.

    The 21st shot involves a mix to the Bleak, desolate though beautiful marshes, which is a lot more calming and soothing than the rest of the film because the shots are much longer and the editing dissolves slowly compared to instantly into each shot.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work