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How does Dickens create characters that are both memorable and striking?

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Introduction

How does Dickens create characters that are both memorable and striking? Have you ever looked at a Charles Dickens novel and thought how uninspiring it would be? It actually surprised me how interesting it was, compared to my perception of a stereotypical Dickens "work of fiction". "Great Expectations", I think, is rightly considered one of the greatest novels of all-time. The depth it goes into is hard to believe, following its central character, the orphan boy, Pip, from his early childhood through his later times, becoming a gentleman. Some people believed that what separated a gentleman from the common people was merely money, and that anybody rich enough, or high-born enough, could be a gentleman. True refinement, is a feature of the heart not money; a gentleman is always considerate and kind to others, always gracious and long-suffering, always lives by precepts of love and honour, which I think is also a feature Charles Dickens tries to make people understand in "Great Expectations" Of the many wealthy people that Pip meets in the story, most are coarse and brutish, like Bentley Drummle or sly and self-serving, like Jaggers, and are no gentleman. The truest man in the novel is Joe Gargery, a humble blacksmith in outwards appearance, but with a gentleman's heart and soul. Pip himself learns that it needs more than money and status to make him a gentleman; his 'expectations' of gentility turn into something greater still. During the course of his life, we encounter an extensive collection of basic human emotions: love, sadness, despair, pity, empathy, social class, betrayal -- and on and on. The story is valued and untouchable for many reasons. One of its main advantages is the plot: after a fairly slow introduction, Dickens writes his story in a faster pace and delivers a shrewd and exciting story that never loses clarity or an element of revelation. ...read more.

Middle

Pip as a child has an exaggerated sense of guilt nevertheless he has enough awareness to doubt Mrs Joe's, Hubble's and Uncle Pumblechook's view of the young. He trusts Joe's judgement but too soon mistakes Joe's lack of learning for lack of wisdom. His association with Magwitch wrongly troubles him and his horror of the man, is exaggerated by his love of Estella. When he goes to London, any guilt that Pip has at his sins is lost in snobbish sense of shame at the degraded social status of the convict and the thought of connection would strike Estella. In the last chapter Estella views her paternity without disgust, and with the death of Magwitch and Joe's reappearance in the novel, the snobbery gives way to an open confident display of love and gratitude. In describing Biddy's hand in the last chapter, he says that it had a "very pretty eloquence in it." In saying this, we know that selfishness has gone, for compliment and kindness to take it's place. He also says to Biddy and Joe, "in charity and love with all mankind, receive my humble thanks for all you have done for me." This shows the gratitude he has redeemed from his childhood condition. Without any great variation in Pip's own narrative style, vast ranges of characters are introduced. This is largely achieved by letting them speak for themselves rather than putting them in a text of Pip's personal overview or summary of events. Pip is able to convey the viewpoint of both his younger self from the simple child of the opening to the young man of the middle section and the more mature narrator. Noticeably, Pip does not change his name to its original state of Phillip Pirrip throughout the book, which is interesting. I would have thought that as growing up, he would have a grown up name, yet his name remains as Pip, therefore showing his original status was kept inside all of the time whilst he was growing through snobbery. ...read more.

Conclusion

Pip is very eager to please Wemmick, obliging to his queries quickly and efficiently. When Wemmick asks him to meet the Aged, Pip says, "I expressed the readiness I felt". He is trying to please Wemmick by doing what he wants him to do. Additionally, I think Pip really wants to respect Wemmick, as he says, "I felt my good faith involved in the observance of his request." Pip here is trying to obey his wishes. I think that when Pip says that Wemmick's house is "ingenious", he is respecting him again, is impressed, yet is just glad to meet people who have love for each other like Wemmick and the Aged. We can see that Mr. Wemmick is proud of his possessions and achievements, as he firstly says about his house when Pip looks at it, "My own doing...Looks pretty don't it?" This shows he has pride in what he has done and is looking at or admiring his accomplishments. What is more, in Pip's opinion, he says, " It was very pleasant to see the pride...smiling as he did so, with a relish and not merely mechanically..." referring back the office reference. This shows that Pip even notices Wemmick's pride at this point. The time is taken to show Pip his home; therefore, the appreciation is put across. From the points I have made, you can see that Charles Dickens truly does create outstanding characters that are both memorable and striking. Through observation as a basis of characterization and the eccentricity and idiosyncrasies of particular individuals, especially through curious habits or physical appearance descriptions, moral and social qualities are shown, and we grow to love every one of the characters in "Great Expectations". From Magwitch to Miss Havisham and Joe to Pip, humour and satire are used through kind laughter and cruel jokes and Charles Dickens gradually unfolds the details of the characters, so their identity remains a secret and you have to read on. ...read more.

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