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How does Charles Dickens create characters that are both memorable and striking in the novel 'Great Expectations'?

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Introduction

How does Charles Dickens create characters that are both memorable and striking in the novel 'Great Expectations'? In 'Great Expectations' Charles Dickens shows his marvellous talent by creating archetypal characters that readers can genuinely sympathise with and relate to. With an intricate mix of dialogues, direct description, setting and atmosphere, Dickens fashions characters that are striking and memorable. He utilises the characters to a great effect in order to shed light on the Victorian class system, and his views on it. Great Expectations is set in a period very different to ours, it is in the Victorian period. A period in which the class system was important. The class system 'refers to the ranking of people into a hierarchy within a culture' (Wikipedia). There was a large contrast in those times, between those at the top, the rich, and those at the bottom, the poor. In real life, it was widely known that Dickens did not like the rich and the power that they wielded over others. This is why he portrays the rich in a bad light and the poor in a good light. This is a habit of Dickens' that he uses in other books as well, for example, Oliver Twist. Again, Dickens' uses the same method in this book, by outlining the changes in Pip's attitude when he goes from being 'common' to a 'gentlemen'. This makes the characters memorable and striking to the reader as Dickens uses a stereotypical approach, the evil rich person versus good poor hero. Great Expectations presents the reader with the development and growth of a character by the name of Phillip Pirrip, or Pip. He is by far the most important character. It seems that there really are two Pips in the book; he is both the protagonist, whose actions make up the main plot of the novel, and the narrator, whose thoughts, actions and reaction help change the readers' perspective and judgement. ...read more.

Middle

One of the best examples of this is when we learn of Estella's distaste for our 'common' Pip. She makes it pretty clear what she thinks of him. He is called a "common labouring boy" and is also described as having 'coarse hands' and 'thick boots'. These hurtful pieces of dialogue targeted at Pip help make both of them memorable. Why? Well, again the readers are sympathetic towards Pip as they are looking from his point of view and do not like to see him 'running away crying'. In addition, when they realise what Estella characteristics are like in comparison to Pip's, they begin to appreciate his qualities even more as they are reminded about what Pip could have been like had he been brought up differently, this further endears him to the readers. Also, they feel contempt towards Estella for saying such things which also make her striking in the readers' minds. Furthermore, the battle between evil rich person and good poor person starts up again here between Estella and Pip. This again, intrigues the reader further as they look to find out what Pip's comeback will be. This further helps to make the pair of them striking. The contrast in characteristics is not the only thing however, that intrigues the readers. They are also amazed and interested to see how fond Pip is of Estella, even though she continues to abuse him whenever he comes over. Similar to when a dog follows its owner even after being continuously beaten. Miss Havisham taught Estella to be rude and condescending to Pip, and thus she would 'break his heart' just like hers had been a long time ago. She often talked down to him like he was just a silly common boy. One day when Pip was leaving, Estella gave him permission to kiss her. After doing so, Pip thought he would feel very good but that was not the case. ...read more.

Conclusion

This decision to choose the 'high life' on Pip's part, forces the readers to rethink their judgement of him even more. They also find out how much he has changed since he became a 'gentlemen'. This change in attitude makes him more prominent in the readers' minds. This change is even more enhanced when compared to Wemmick's way of living. This also endears Wemmick to the readers as he is now the new 'good guy' in the novel Dickens repeats certain words exactly or words of the same effect to help create a gloomy atmosphere, which usually draws contrast or parallels the characters' attitudes. For example, through the book words such as 'ghastly', 'sunken', 'dead' and 'buried' are used for atmospheric reasons thus relating to the character and making them more memorable. Alliteration is also used such as 'low leaden line' and 'small bundle of shivers' to really ram home the setting again for added impact and make contrast or parallels with characters to make them more memorable. Pip's story is not about living happily ever after with Estella. Dickens never tells us what happens, if anything, between them in the end. He leaves it only that they remain 'friends'. There is a purpose for this. Estella is present in Pip's thoughts more than actual interaction between the characters. Due to this lack of interaction, the readers do not discover if Estella really had changed or if she loved Pip. Therefore, even at the end, Dickens is making the readers ask questions of Estella and Pip, thus enhancing them one last time. In 'Great Expectations' Charles Dickens shows his marvellous talent by creating archetypal characters that readers can genuinely sympathise with and relate to. With an intricate mix of dialogues, direct description, setting and atmosphere, Dickens fashions characters that are striking and memorable. He utilises the characters to a great effect in order to shed light on the Victorian class system, and his views on it. Kishan Davdra 10R ...read more.

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