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How does Dickens create sympathy for his characters in the opening passage of Great Expectations?

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Introduction

How does Dickens create sympathy for his characters in the opening passage of Great Expectations? Published initially as a weekly contribution in a local newspaper, Dickens' Great Expectations developed to be a great success. Great Expectations was a story for all classes, both rich and poor appreciated his efforts. Great Expectations is the tale of Phillip Pirrip who has no family except an older sister, he feels insecure in the world around him. Having no parents to give him a sense of identity, he wanders in the wilderness that is the graveyard to search for answers. Dickens' own life was very much along the lines of Pip, his father a well paid clerk went to jail for unpaid debts. Dickens himself was a weak and feeble child who was not cared for. He moulds his family history in to the character of Pip, who also suffers in a way that Dickens had. This essay focuses on which writing techniques Dickens uses to help the reader empathize with the characters of Pip and Magwich. The techniques in particular to be examined are setting, characterization, narrative voice and dialogue. ...read more.

Middle

Suddenly Pip is attacked by an unknown stranger, clad in chains and dishevelled in appearance. The immediacy of the situation seems comedic at first but develops to become the focus of the passage. The reader feels sorry for Pip as the escaped convict threaten him just after he realised the death of his parents. The convict, namely Magwich is the ogre of any child's nightmare. Pip portrays Magwich as a "fearful" man; Pip's prolonged list on Magwich's appearance creates the impression of a child describing a horrendous creature. This increases the compassion the reader has for Pip since the reader knows exactly how Pip felt at the time. The reader also empathises with Magwich as they are told of his poor state and weather torn clothes. As the passage progresses the reader discovers that although very diverse in nature, both Pip and Magwich are insecure. Pip sees Magwich hugging "his shuddering body in both his arms - clasping himself". The image of the Magwich holding his arms around him, alone in the marshes, is familiar to the initial image of young Pip: "a small bundle of shivers". Both characters share a common loneliness and isolation from the world, the orphan and the escaped convict. ...read more.

Conclusion

nothing longer or more explicit than Pip". The reader feels compassion for Pip as they learn that he could not pronounce his own name as a child. The reader's sympathy grows for Pip as they learn of his unfortunate past and Pip's realisation of his family's death, as seen with "... the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip. Pip's dialogue creates more empathy for him in the reader as he describes in his own words, his misfortune and abandoned past. Alternatively, Dickens use of dialogue with Magwich creates a negative impression for him in the reader. Magwich is very aggressive in his mannerism and dialogue, for instance, `Hold your noise'. The sudden contrast of dialogues (from courteous to offensive) creates confusion in the passage, similar to the one that runs between Magwich and Pip throughout the chapter. However, Magwich's character is revealed through his dialogue and the reader starts comprehending his reason for acting hostile manner towards Pip. Like Pip, Magwich is also vulnerable as seen with `I wish I was a frog. Or a eel!' This piece of dialogue shows Magwich as a man who is infuriated with his poor standard of life. The similarity between Magwich and Pip is made more apparent with their dialogue. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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