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How does Dickens create sympathy for his characters in the first 11 chapters of Great Expectations?

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Introduction

How does Dickens create sympathy for his characters in the first 11 chapters of Great Expectations? Great Expectations is a light-hearted novel which follows the story of a young orphan by the name of 'Phillip Pirrip', known throughout the novel as 'Pip'. The story revolves around the great expectations that this boy has of the world and how he wishes to become a 'gentlemen'. The book is written as a 'bildungsroman' which, simply put, is a 'coming of age' novel. It usually entails the growth of the protagonist in not only body, but also mentality and mind throughout. We follow this child as he grows up from a timid, naive young boy to a complex man of many ideals. In this essay, I will be analyzing Dickens's style of writing and how he enables us to sympathize with his characters. My main two focuses will be around chapters one and eight however, I will be using other chapters as a reference to my points. The story starts off on a day none other than Christmas Eve, 1812. Our 7 year old protagonist encounters an escaped convict in the churchyard while he was visiting his family's many graves. The convict threateningly demands Pip to steal him some 'wittles' (food) and a file to grind away his leg shackles. Pip, being timid in nature, easily became intimidated by the convict and obeys his demands. ...read more.

Middle

But why would we keep this faith? What does Dickens do to make us so adore Pip despite his many problems and snobbish attitude? Well, firstly, we followed Pip as he grew up. We gained firsthand access to his thoughts and emotions allowing us to understand him better. We watched him as he grew up from an innocent child to an adult. As we watched that innocent child and heard his thoughts, we began to be able to relate to him and soon we developed an attachment to him, feeling more curious as to what happens to him. Secondly, during the first chapter, we come across a technique called 'Pathetic Fallacy'. This is simply adding human attributes to that of an inanimate object. However, the pathetic fallacy that Dickens uses gives the feeling of a depressing atmosphere. Examples include: "bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard", "dark flat wilderness", "distant save lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea", "small bundles of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip". These quotes all serve one purpose: to bring us along with the atmosphere. To make us feel depressed, gloomy and bleak as we follow along with the story. This all makes us able to feel sympathy to Pip. We are able to feel the depression he feels caused by this gloomy place. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, though there are things causing her to be sympathetic, there are many things causing her to be unsympathetic. She takes her hate of men overboard. She feels that she needs to take revenge on all men, concluding that all men are evil. And to her, it's just a game and people are just pawns. For example, Pip is used as a pawn while Ms Havisham is a majestic 'queen' in her sick game of revenge. Estella is a reincarnation of her hatred and Estella herself is used by Ms. Havisham as a way to get back to all men, due to her own inability to do so. People see this as evil and the poor sympathetic Pip is just being used. This causes Miss Havisham to be duly hated by some. Overall, Dickens uses emotions as a way to control the reader's emotions; whether he uses them to make you take a liking to the character, or to hate the character. Pip's innocence is what makes him so sympathetic while Miss Havisham's disregard of other's emotions is what makes her so hated. Great Expectations was a book where the characters came to life. It was an exhilarating read as you felt the characters within you. You didn't just follow the characters adventure throughout; you followed through their suffering, their pain and their joy. The book was a journey of up and downs and overall, it was an excellent read. ...read more.

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