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How does Charles dickens portray characters through

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How does Charles dickens portray characters through their settings in his novel Great Expectations? This essay will analyse how Charles Dickens portrays characters through their settings in chapters one and eight in the world famous novel Great Expectations. Firstly I will give a brief background of Charles Dickens and how his life experiences have had an effect on this novel. Secondly I will describe the social and historical background which influenced Dickens when writing this story. Next I will describe how Dickens portrayed characters though their settings and finally provide an impartial conclusion. Charles Dickens was born on the 7th of February 1812 in Portsmouth and died at the age of 58. Much of his earlier years were spent outdoors in the country and reading until his father was imprisoned and at the age of 12, Dickens was sent to work in a boot blacking factory, near where they then lived in Camden Town, London. A lot of connections between Dickens poor early life and his desire to separate from them are portrayed in Pips story. Dickens was a fierce critic of poverty wishing to improve their conditions although he felt himself to be superior to them. He showed this in many of his novels. At the time when Great Expectations was written Queen Victoria was on the throne. ...read more.


This is the turning point of Pips life as later on in the novel Magwitch helps Pip. Magwitch and the marshes are very similar as he is "wet", "smothered in mud", "lamed by stones", and "cut by flints", "stung by nettles and torn by briars". The word choice suggests Magwitch is part of the marshes. The verbs used like "limped", "shivered" and his "teeth chattered" show the marshes transforming Magwitch into a different person. Whilst Magwitch is threatening to cut Pips throat, Pip still has respect for his elders by saying "Sir". Throughout the chapter I saw that Dickens spelt many of Magwitchs words wrong for example point which he spells "pint". This demonstrates he has a working class dialect and is uneducated. Dickens uses references from fairy tales like red riding hood when Magwitch "licks his lips". The language changes often between younger Pip and older more educated Pip. Dickens makes Magwitch intimidate Pip by using several techniques like using high angle shots making Magwitch appear even bigger compared to the helpless Pip. Magwitch picks Pip up and shakes him and makes stories up about an evil man who wants to kill Pip, this makes Pip even more terrified than before. Magwitch does this because he is desperate for the food and the file so he can survive. Chapter eight introduces an old, lonely and tired of life Miss Havisham in her run down decrepit mansion called Satis which means satisfied. ...read more.


Dickens yet again uses a reference from a fairy tale. This time Miss Havisham only has one wedding shoe on which is similar to that of Cinderella. Miss Havisham has created a separate world for herself where time and daylight have no meaning so when Pip leaves the house he feels confused and disorientated. Pip is made to feel uneducated and "coarse" by Estella, her insulting manner makes him feel a mixture of emotions including "angry", "offended" and "humiliated". He released his anger by kicking the deserted wall of the abandoned brewery. The "rank garden" of the house, the "gloom" of the brewery and the emptiness adds a ghostly spookiness. To conclude I feel that Charles Dickens succeeds in portraying characters through their settings in his novel Great Expectations. I came to this conclusion because the two characters I have studied Magwitch and Miss Havisham both compare with their settings. Magwitch a lower class uneducated prisoner resembles the marshes by the use of descriptive words chosen. For example "soaked in water"," smothered by mud", "lamed by stones", "cut by flints", "stung by nettles" and "torn by briars" all could equally describe the marsh landscape. Miss Havisham's connection with her house is portrayed by the use of descriptive words like "old", "dismal" and "run down", the language used emphasizes decay, rotting and ageing all these descriptive words are happening to both her house and to Miss Havisham, for example her "faded" clothes and "sunken eyes". Dickens also makes sure that the settings tie in with the characters social class. ...read more.

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