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How does Dickens create sympathy for Pip in the first part of Great Expectations?

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Introduction

How does Dickens create sympathy for Pip in the first part of Great Expectations? Charles Dickens, author of Great Expectations, was born on the 7th February 1812. The novel is set in the early part of 19th century England and begins in a semi-rural setting. The text immediately focuses on the principal character and narrator, Phillip Pirrip, a name later abbreviated to "Pip". It is clear to see that Charles Dickens wanted Pip to be a sympathetic character in Great Expectations, which I believe is due to his own social beliefs and upbringing as a child. As with Pip, Dickens was brought up facing poverty and depression, which surrounded him in his everyday early life. This upbringing gave him a clear understanding of the conditions in which the lower class society were like in this period, a knowledge which he often uses to induce sympathy for the characters in his novels. This sympathy is keenly reflected in Great Expectations, and particularly emphasised in Chapter One, where Pip goes alone to visit the gravestones of his dead parents and siblings. The graveyard is situated on the misty marshes near the cottage where Pip lives with his sister Mrs Gargery and her husband, Joe. ...read more.

Middle

During this encounter with Magwitch, Pip is too terrified to speak hardly at all and limits his responses to a scared "Yes, sir". Here we get a further example of how Dickens puts Pip in a sympathetic light to the reader, he is helpless to the frightful situation he finds himself in and is very worried about "That young man" coming to find him. We also need to remember that Pip cannot even see his parents graves (the purpose of the visit) due to the ordeal with Magwitch, he is in quite a pathetic situation and again the reader feels enhanced sympathy towards him. Throughout the following chapters, our sympathy for Pip increases further still as we learn more about his upbringing. Although it was not uncommon in the early nineteenth century for children to be unfairly treated and beaten, Pip's story does seem unusually harsh. He was continually whipped by his sister, Mrs Joe, often for no reason at all, or for 'not appreciating' what she did for him. Mrs Joe had a whip which she'd nicknamed 'tickler', ironic as it obviously is intended to do quite the opposite of tickling. ...read more.

Conclusion

Shortly after the game of cards, Pip asks to go home, on his journey he wanders through the old, abandoned brewery and thinks that he sees Miss Havisham lifelessly dangling from a rope. We can see here how vulnerable and desperate he's feeling, all he wants is to be as far away as possible from Satis House. Throughout their meetings, Estella has been extremely rude to Pip and when he sees her in the gardens on his way home, he can't help but begin to cry at her appearance. Estella simply mocks him ruthlessly, saying, "Why, don't you cry?, you've been crying 'til you're half blind you are near crying again now." Pip leaves the house in a rage of hurt and anger, kicking the walls and brooding over how Estella "Laughed contemptuously, pushed [him] me out and locked the gates..." This final part of this chapter really invites us to understand Pip and to empathise with his situation. It is perhaps possible to compare Pip with Dickens' own upbringing, especially with the theme of abandonment, Pip being orphaned and Dickens' father being arrested when Dickens was very young. The unhappiness that Pip feels of his own upbringing and education could also be compared to that of Dickens, who was denied any usual education by his parents and was forced to do it himself. ...read more.

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