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

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How does Charles Dickens create sympathy for Pip in the novel Great Expectations? In this essay I will be exploring the many different ways in which Charles Dickens creates sympathy for his character of Pip; the setting of the story, the interaction with other characters, the language used, the mood created and the effect given. I will also be reflecting on Dickens' life and drawing comparisons with that and his stories. Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations in the 19th century, at a time when Victorian England was struck by a large class division. There were many people living in poverty, starving, and many people who were rich and wealthy. Dickens grew up in the poverty stricken side. At twelve years old he left school to work, as his father had been sent away to a debtor's prison, a place that is frequently referred to in his books. In taking a closer look at Charles Dickens' life it becomes clear that his novels reflect personal experiences. Most of his works are based around class, society, money and especially children (Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, Nicholas Nickleby, A Christmas Carol and of course Great Expectations). 'Great Expectations' is a perfect example of how Dickens was attempting to inform his readers on the struggle some people faced to be accepted into a new class. ...read more.


This sentence gives the reader an image of Pip shaking, wanting somebody to protect him. Dickens uses his settings as a base for feelings. His choice of setting reflects the situation. In extract one Magwitch threatens Pip with death right in front of all his families' graves, which is sort of ironic. The whole situation is a cause to give Pip sympathy. Dickens describes Magwitch with longer descriptions first and then short one-word descriptions after. This makes Magwitch's faults seem to go on forever and it also makes him more frightening. "A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head... who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled." The words Dickens uses to describe Pip are also very important. They are very emotive words such as, "Pleaded in terror" "trembling" "timidly explained" "to give me a greater sense of helplessness and danger" The way Pip's speech is described is also a key point for sympathy. Pip is very polite to his elders, using "sir" even when Magwitch is threatening to kill him, "There, sir!" He is also shown to be nervous and scared by faltering and stammering his speech, "Goo-good-night, sir," I faltered" This shows a very moral side of Pip, because even though he is terrified of this man he still says good-night to him. ...read more.


Although he is being given lots of responsibility this reminds the reader that he is still only a young boy. When Pip is given food the vocabulary used by Miss Havisham and Estella is very demeaning and degrading. "Estella, take him down. Let him have something to eat, and let him roam and look about him while he eats. Go, Pip." Pip is referred to as "him" rather than by name even though he is in the room as they are having the conversation. The word "roam" also indicates something that an animal would do rather than a person. When Pip recognizes this fact, "As if I were a dog in disgrace." We instantly feel sorry for him because he knows that he is disliked by Estella. The main object in this extract is to show to the readers how rich people looked down on lower-class people. Through-out this essay I have been looking at the ways in which Charles Dickens creates characters we can empathise with. I have found that the main ways he does this are by the descriptive language he uses to describe them, the use of language when his characters are interacting and also giving the reader a back-ground to his characters so they can feel more comfortable with the book. Dickens uses many techniques within these extracts such as rhetorical questions, repetition, listing descriptive language. Heather Foxen 0064 English "Great Expectations" Coursework 1 ...read more.

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