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HOW DOES DICKENS CREATE CHARACTERS THAT PROVOKE STRONG REACTIONS IN THE READERS OF 'GREAT EXPECTATIONS'?

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Introduction

HOW DOES DICKENS CREATE CHARACTERS THAT PROVOKE STRONG REACTIONS IN THE READERS OF 'GREAT EXPECTATIONS'? Charles John Huffman Dickens was born in 1812 and lived a middle class life for most of his childhood. This was until 1824 when his father John, who was a naval clerk, had money troubles and was sent to Marshalsea debtor's prison. Twelve year old Charles had to leave school to work in a blacking factory in order to support his family. This was the most appalling time of his life and an incident no one would wish to ever encounter. After his childhood experience with poverty, Dickens became empathetic toward the lower classes, especially children. A lot of his books are about class, society and money, usually with characters getting out of poverty and climbing up the social scale. 'Great Expectations' is no different. It tells the story of Phillip Pirrip (or Pip), an orphan brought up by his sister and her husband. He grows from a poor young boy to a 'gentleman' when he moves to London. This metamorphosis is made possible by a rich benefactor, whose identity the reader doesn't find out until the end. The book contains numerous twists and turns that the reader never sees coming and the characters all seem to be connected in ways that one would never have imagined. The reader feels many 'strong reactions' during the course of the book. These are a wide variety of emotions including anger, fear, apprehension, surprise, mistrust, sympathy and hate. ...read more.

Middle

Dickens, in the second extract shows the reader the obvious difference between the rich and poor in Victorian times. Pip is left humiliated, embarrassed and understandably angry after meeting Miss Havisham and Estella. Torn between being insulted and his attraction to Estella, he feels ashamed of his upbringing, so much so that he 'wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up.' His new found respect and love for Joe is being spoiled by his embarrassment of being brought up in a lower class family. Magwitch is introduced to us as 'a fearful man' with his first words being: "Hold your noise...Keep still, you little devil, or I'll cut your throat!" but this cowardly act of his shows the reader that Magwitch is not as tough as he comes across even though Pip still finds him terrifying. Magwitch is a very complicated character; one minute we hate him, the next we think he's pathetic, the next we feel incredible sympathy for him. These sort of strong reactions are typical throughout the book and our feelings for the characters are always changing. There are splashes of humour every now and then in the midst of all the doom and gloom of the book. When Magwitch asks Pip where his mother is and Pip points to an area nearby, Magwitch turns around and is about to make a run for it when he realises that Pip is pointing at a grave. "And is that your father alonger with your mother?" ...read more.

Conclusion

The reader wonders how come Miss Havisham is in her unmarried state and this makes us feel sorry for her. She lives in the dark, keeping all the light out as if she can't bear to face the world. Then the reader's attitude towards her changes when we realise that Miss Havisham just wants Pip for a plaything and we begin to feel less kind towards her. When she goes as far as telling Estella to "beggar him" and "break his heart" we definitely we definitely start to dislike her. The reader doesn't feel that Pip is safe with her. The differences between the happenings now and in 'Great Expectations' make the modern reader surprised and mystified, but still able to relate to Pip's story. 'Great Expectations' is can still be related to today because at some point, everyone goes through the struggles that Pip must battle. It shows that assets and wealth do not change who people are inside, and that finding one's self can be a long tedious process until finally everything becomes clear. Dickens wrote 'Great Expectations' as a way for him to introduce himself into his writing; many aspects of his life can be found in the book, making it very autobiographical. It was also a way of making his feelings known about the social issues in England in his time. He tells the reader not to judge people, as appearances are very deceptive. The 'moral' of the story seems to be that no matter how you change your outward appearance and how much you educate yourself, you can't change who you really are. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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