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How does Dickens interest the reader in the opening of Great Expectations?

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How does Dickens interest the reader in the opening of Great Expectations? Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations in the 1860s. He lived during the Victorian period (1812 - 1870) and was the second of eight children in his family. When he was younger he enjoyed reading and had many favorite authors who inspired him. His life changed dramatically when his fortune changed. His father went to prison when he was 12, which left him with nothing but to help support the rest of his family. He worked 10 strenuous, cruel hours a day earning very little; this is what made him so interested in the plight between the working class and the upper class and their lives. He started writing books in the 1830's, which were aimed at the upper class so he could raise awareness of the harsh living conditions that some people lived in. He did this by relating his books to his real life expressing in them how much his change of fortune affected him. This is proven in many of his books e.g Little Dorrit, Bleak House, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations. Great Expectations is a story about a young orphan called Phillip Pirrip (Pip) ...read more.


Not only does Dickens grab the reader's attention through Pip but also through the character of Magwitch. Magwitch is an escaped convict that comes across Pip when he is visiting his family in the graveyard. He has a "great iron on his leg" and looks worn down and tired. This makes the reader want to read on as it raises questions such as what has he done wrong and how long has he been there for? It also makes them think that something bad might happen as a villainous character has been added to the story, which adds suspense. Magwitch is associated with negative thoughts as his name is harsh sounding and makes you think of something evil. He is linked with animals when he is described as "licking his lips" which sounds bestial and when he says " what fat cheeks you ha' got", it is intertextual with Little Red Riding Hood so he has been related to the villainous wolf. This shows that he could be perilous and violent. As he knows that Pip is weak and inexperienced, he is seen as clever in this situation making the reader increasingly fearful for Pip because he comes off as a malicious man. ...read more.


The alliteration used here is to emphasize the qualities that the river processes which are dull and miserable features. Dickens wants to make the atmosphere daunting and build a picture for the reader by using these adjectives. In the distance, Pip makes out two objects, which are a beacon and a gibbet. These are representing anti-thesis of life and death - this makes the reader wonder what will happen. The opening of Great Expectations gains the reader's attention well with influential adjectives and memorable vocabulary. The title of the book is significant as it relates to Pip's life and his symbolic name. The novel is part of a serialisation which is a continuous story broken into smaller parts which can be published either together or separately. This meant Dickens could attempt to make an impact on the division between the rich and poor. He wanted to gain interest so that the upper class would take notice, understand and act upon his teachings. This was very important to him as he has been part of both classes so now has a lot of sympathy and perceptive towards the lower class. His books were all closely linked and had similar narratives and structures so he could hopefully create a foundation of knowledge for the upper class. Philippa Harkness English ...read more.

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