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How does Dickens create sympathy for his characters, Pip and Magwitch, In "Great Expectations"

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Introduction

How does Dickens create sympathy for his characters, Pip and Magwitch, In "Great Expectations" Dickens uses a variety of different literary techniques in "Great Expectations" such as analogies and settings, to create sympathy for the characters, Pip and Magwitch. He also uses the structure of his text so that the reader's sympathy swings from one character to another as the story progresses. There is an introduction of Pip followed by a little on his family history; Here we learn that Pip is an orphan seeing as his "first fancies regarding what they (his parents) looked like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones" Here sympathy is created for the reader as it tells us that not only is Pip an orphan but that he never has never seen them. This feeling of loss is emphasised when Dickens goes on to describe the "five little stone lozenges," that are the graves of his brothers. This not only further increases the sympathy we feel towards Pip but also gives an insight into the high infant mortality in the 19th century. As the novel progresses Dickens goes onto describe Pip's realisation of just how alone he really is: I found out for certain...that Phillip Pirrip, late of this parish, and also Georgiana, wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias and Rodger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried. ...read more.

Middle

By deliberately introducing Pip first, the reader feels an affinity for him and gets a better chance to empathise and learn more of his character. By doing this, when Dickens introduces Magwitch, the reader feels an instinctive dislike towards him. However, the sympathy felt for Pip, though not leaving him completely, swings to Magwitch as we later discover the ordeals he has been through to get to this point. Magwitch also physically assaults Pip by tipping him upside down and then "ravenously" eating the bread that falls out. As Magwitch can tip poor Pip upside down, the reader is shown how strong he is in relation to Pip, stressing his own helplessness in this situation. He is left 'trembling' after this experience which in turn evokes a feeling of sympathy for the poor boy. Dickens uses this same situation to create sympathy for Magwitch as well, as although he is in fact stealing what little food Pip has, the fact he is resorting to such measures and is eating the bread "ravenously," creates sympathy for him as it hints to the reader that he has not had anything to eat in a long time and also reminds the reader of the turmoil he has suffered getting to this point. The reader also sympathises more with Magwitch's plight as he says to Pip whilst "licking his lips", "what fat cheeks you ha' got...darn me if I couldn't eat them." ...read more.

Conclusion

Instead he is forced to "pick his way among the nettles, and among brambles." Once again this shows the reader the difficulties he is facing with his surroundings and in turn this makes the reader feel sorry for him as it is clear that he has nowhere else to go. As Pip describes his surroundings once again as the sun is setting, he talks of how he can faintly make out two things on the horizon- a beacon the sailors use to steer and the other, a gibbet, from whose chain a pirate once hung. As Pip describes Magwitch walking towards the latter it gives a sense of foreboding as though something terrible is about to happen and that the gibbet (for Magwitch) might symbolise death. This creates sympathy for Magwitch as it is shown as another reminder to the reader of the punishment he could face if caught. Dickens creates sympathy for his characters, Pip and Magwitch in many ways. By carefully structuring his story; he is able to swing the reader's sympathy from Pip to Magwitch as the story progresses. By introducing Pip first, Dickens made the reader feel sympathetic towards his situation. However, he was also able to make the reader empathise with Magwitch as well despite his less than honourable actions. Dickens also uses the characters dialogue and body language to represent how a character feels and what they are thinking. ...read more.

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