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How does Charles Dickens make the characters in his novel, Great Expectations, memorable?

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Introduction

How does Charles Dickens make the characters in his novel, Great Expectations, memorable? Great Expectations the novel by Charles Dickens, follows a young orphaned boy's journey through life. The little orphan Pip, has an insignificant existence, just another common labouring boy, however a twist occurs with the discovery of a new fortune from a mysterious source and he becomes a boy of 'great expectations'. The novel is set in England in the 1800's it is made clear that the novel is set in this period as Pip states as a young boy, referring to his parents 'their time was long before the days of photographs'. This suggests that the novel is set roughly in the 1840's. Later, when Pip has grown up the story seems to be set at the same time as the novel was written, in 1860. Dickens uses many clever devices to make the characters in his novel come alive and stick in the readers mind. He uses vivid description and powerful language, striking dialogue and characters brimming with personality, to make them very memorable. He did this, because at the time, Great Expectations was not published as one whole novel, but as separate chapters in a magazine, as many people at the time could not afford to purchase a full novel. Thusly in order to keep the readers interested and to make sure they kept buying the issues, he had to make the story exiting and interesting, as well as memorable, so that the narrative stayed bold in the readers mind. The novel begins with a narrative by the protagonist: Pip and continues this way throughout; this makes the reader feel more attached to him as it makes the book feel more personal, and because we feel attached to Pip, we remember him. He is an unforgettable character, as he plays the main role and tells his story to the reader, we are given an insight into his mind, conscience and deepest feelings, this makes us feel even more close to him. ...read more.

Middle

This humbleness means that he is well liked by the reader, and characters that are well liked become unforgettable. Through the medium of Joe Gargery, Dickens is trying to convey a message. He is trying to show that although Pip has become a stereotypical 'gentleman' he does not show any respect to Joe, whereas Joe himself, is humble and respectful towards Pip. By using the interactions of these two characters, Dickens is trying to show how, being noble is not about what a person is in body but it is about what a person is like in spirit and that Joe Gargery is the true gentleman of the two. Another distinguishing feature of Joe is his accent, much like Magwitch, this helps to make him more distinctive. He misses f's from of's 'O' and saying things like 'elth' instead of health. His accent makes him into a more believable, well rounded character. He is also distinct because of his background, we recall him as a blacksmith and when the reader thinks of Joe we see him in the forge, with a hammer in one hand. As Joe Gargery says himself, the forge is where he belongs, and he feels 'wrong' anywhere else. The clear backdrop he is placed in makes him easier to remember. Through the medium of Joe Gargery, Dickens is trying to convey a message. He is trying to show that although Pip has become Another particularly indelible character is Jaggers, he is Pip's guardian in London, while he is still young, and a well respected lawyer. His place in London as a lawyer makes him seem like a more real character, because his has a life prior to the events we see in the book. For example there are the face moulds of previous clients that show that he has a life outside the storyline, making him more realistic, it also adds to the overall atmosphere of Jaggers' office, filled with many strange things along with the casts. ...read more.

Conclusion

Miss Havisham makes a dramatic first appearance, and Dickens uses strong language such as ' ghastly, and faded and yellow, she is also described in the same passage as having 'shrunk to skin and bone' I think the word shrunk is particularly effective here as it implies how she has withered and degraded in time, like a rotting fruit. He also uses powerful comparisons like 'Waxwork and Skeleton' to create a very memorable image. The house of Miss Havisham is also a crucial part of her character, as it really personifies her inner feelings. The dingy, dank shuttered room full of cobwebs creates a dark atmosphere and shows how Miss Havisham is feeling. And because her feelings are shown in the atmosphere of the house, they are remembered- the reader recalls the gloomy house and links it in with Miss Havisham, this adds greatly to her personality, Miss Havisham, without her house, would not be half as effective. Lastly it is the moral story of the whole plot, and the comparison between morals and the class system which is illustrated very well by the characters and the style of the plot that make this novel stand out. It shows how the lowliest citizens can turn out to be the kindest (Magwitch the convict, who helps out Pip and leads him to a better life) in great contrast with Miss Havisham (who is very wealthy but turns out to be very cruel to Pip by conditioning Estella to break his heart). This showing of an ethical, almost fable-like storyline makes the characters more meaningful, as the moral side of the novel is also remembered by the reader. Overall I think Great Expectations is a fantastically distinguished and memorable novel, containing unique characters that really bring it alive. It is has an array of momentous characters and is certainly a historic creation by a man accredited as being one of the greatest storytellers of all time: Charles Dickens. ...read more.

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