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How Does Dickens Create Characters That Are Both Memorable And Striking? Discuss With Reference To At Least Two Characters From The Novel Great Expectations

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Sophie Hyde How Does Dickens Create Characters That Are Both Memorable And Striking? Discuss With Reference To At Least Two Characters From The Novel. Charles Dickens creates characters that are both memorable and striking; firstly, by the way he sets the scene in the chapters. Secondly, by the engaging description of the characters and the way they behave. He also creates good, memorable and striking characters by the way he makes the characters speak. 'Great Expectations' is no exception to this technique. Great Expectations, like most of his novels, was originally Serialized between December 1, 1860 and August 3, 1861, Great Expectations was an extraordinary success, selling (midway through its run), over one hundred thousand copies weekly in Dickens's magazine 'All the Year Round', so therefore he needed to create characters that were both memorable and striking and that also grabbed the reader's attention to make them want to buy next episode. Some characters that are memorable in 'Great Expectations' are: Miss Havisham, Estella, Wemmick, The Aged, Abel Magwitch, Joe Gargery and of course Pip. The two I find most memorable and striking are Abel Magwitch and Miss Havisham. I have chosen these two characters because I find there are some interesting parallels between them. Some of these similarities are: - they are both victims, because Magwitch is the victim of the other escaped convict (Scar face), and Miss Havisham is the victim because she was jilted at the alter. They are both victimisers because they both victimise Pip, Magwitch on the Marsh when he threatens Pip and Miss Havisham when she orders Pip to play. Magwitch is Estella's father and Miss Havisham has adopted Estella. They are both prisoners, Magwitch is a prisoner of the crown whereas Miss Havisham is a prisoner in her own home as she wont go outside. They are both in unhappy circumstances. They have both been placed in interesting unusual environments, which reflects their current states or personalities. ...read more.


In Victorian times an escaped convict would have filled the reader with utter fear. Dickens also says that Magwitch isn't wearing any hat, which would be regarded as disrespectful, and that he is not a gentleman, as he isn't wearing a hat. Dickens also uses a lot of verbs in the description regarding the way Magwitch looks, such as: - "soaked" "smothered" "lamed" "cut" "stung" and "torn" which suggests that the environment is hostile towards him and that it has disabled him in some way. There is also a strong sense of rhythm throughout the description, for example "soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles and torn by briars". The "Cut by flints" is almost onomatopoeic in that it gives a choppy monosyllabic effect to capture the act. Dickens finishes off his description of Abel Magwitch by writing verbs like: - "shivered", "limped", "glared" and "growled". The glared and growled gives us alliteration and proves just how animal like he is, as Magwitch is conveyed as beast like in a wilderness, who is hunted by society. When Pip first sees Miss Havisham he describes her as "The strangest lady he had ever seen". There is then a full description of Miss Havisham that proves just how strange and emotionally scared she is. Dickens says that she is dressed in rich materials- satins, and lace, and silks, we can tell from this that is an extremely upper class woman. We start to realise she is strange when Dickens says everything she wore was white. When he says white, we associate it with a wedding and we learn that she was abandoned at the altar later in the book. She has been at Manor/ Satis house for a long time, we can tell this when Dickens says, "The dress she wore had lost its lustre, and was faded and yellow", and also when he says "The bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress". ...read more.


Miss Havisham doesn't think that Pip can do anything for himself and she proves this by saying "You can do that. Call Estella. At the door", which is ordering Pip to call Estella in a strange house. I think this is one reason why Pip feels very uncomfortable in Manor house, as it is totally outside his experience- a working class boy in the presence of middle/ high-class society. When Miss Havisham says to Estella "Well you can break his heart" we see what her plan is and Miss Havisham is also been very horrible. When she asks Pip, what does he think of Estella? She is being a bit cheeky, quite controlling and very mean, but it is the only sentence she says to him politely. When he does say (in her ear) Miss Havisham keeps prompting him, which in my opinion is very taunting, but overall that is what Miss Havisham is. So to conclude there are three main ways, in which Charles Dickens creates his memorable and striking characters. Firstly by the way he describes the setting, secondly by the way Dickens delineates the characters, for example: - the way the characters look and behave and thirdly by the way the characters speak. We have learnt that Abel Magwitch is a kind, desperate man who needed Pips help, and that Miss Havisham is a strange, grotesque, mean old lady who just likes to boss people around, having said this, in my opinion the reader feels a small amount of sympathy for her. We wouldn't expect that Magwitch and Miss Havisham are totally reversed on our first impressions, but the whole theme is about our expectations. Dickens has created a number of successful characters, and because of their capturing description we can hear and see the characters, and because we know them and Dickens has brought them alive, we remember them for the rest of our lives. ...read more.

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