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How does Dickens introduce character and create atmosphere in the opening chapters of Great Expectations?

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Introduction

Great Expectations How does Dickens introduce character and create atmosphere in the opening chapters of Great Expectations? The novel introduces Pip in a deserted graveyard, he is recalling his experiences from the past. He is a small child who named himself Pip because his "infant tongue" could not pronounce Pirrip or his Christian name Phillip. He is alone and is reading his parents` gravestones, this makes the reader feel sympathy for him, that he is a lonely and innocent boy. He had five little brothers who died at a young age; five little stone lozenges next to his parents` gravestones represent them. He feels that he owns the marsh, and that it is important to him, the evidence of this is that he states, "Ours was the marsh country". As the convict approached him, he becomes scared and fears him, he describes him as being a "fearful man". He is obviously afraid, because the convict describes him as being a "little devil". Pip responds to the convict's actions by pleading "O! don't cut my throat sir" this indicates that he respects his elders and it suggests that he was strictly raised. He speaks with no hesitation to the convict, he displays this by the way he states his name immediately: "Pip, Pip sir". We learn that Pip is quite poor because all that was found in his pockets was a piece of bread. Although he is poor, there is evidence that he seems to be fed well, the convict emphasizes this by saying "What fat cheeks you ha` got". ...read more.

Middle

Pip describes her as being the "strangest lady" he had ever seen. She was dressed in rich materials, satins, lace and silks, all that are symbols of wealth. She had a "long white veil dependent from her hair" which makes us believe that she is a bit odd wearing bridal wear for no apparent reason. Her hair was white which symbolizes that she is quite old. Another symbol of wealth is created because she had some bright jewels sparkling around her neck. Pip states that the "bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress" which is another clue to her being quite old. We are given another unhealthy image of Miss Havisham, of her dying, the book reflects this by stating that there was "no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes" and her figure had "hung loose" and had "shrunk to skin and bone". She states that she had never seen the sun since she was born, this makes the reader feel that she is again isolated and hiding away from life outside. She is also a cold-hearted person, because she says that her heart was broken with an eager look on her face. We learn that she despises adults, and that she acts like a child, the novel portrays this by stating that she has "sick fancies" and she orders Pip with an "impatient movement of the hand" to play. When Estella came to play with Pip, Miss Havisham says to Estella that she can break Pips heart, this indicates that Miss Havisham has set out to seek revenge on men, and that is one of the reasons why she brought Pip to her house. ...read more.

Conclusion

Pip is made to feel vulnerable, he has no choice but to do what Miss Havisham says, this is because he had the "desperate idea of starting round the room" meaning that he had to embarrass himself in front of Miss Havisham. She asked Pip if he was sullen and obstinate, he is obviously very misunderstood. Miss Havisham becomes frustrated with him and pitiful for him, the book expresses this by stating "So new to him" "So old to me" "So melancholy to both of us!" Miss Havisham again makes Pip feel discomfort as he is made to shout out "Estella" in a dark and "mysterious passage of an un-known house" again he is made to embarrass himself. Another sense that life has seized for Miss Havisham is that there are "pale, decayed objects" which also creates a deathly and unsettling atmosphere. Pip also describes her clothes as "grave-clothes" and her "long veil looking like a shroud" both of which are linked with a corpse. As Pip leaves Miss Havisham`s house, he states that the "rush of daylight" quite confounded him, this is another clue that the house is a very dark place. Toward the end of the chapter, we feel pity for Pip, because Estella treats him so badly, but he is strong because he refuses to cry in the presence of her, even though his feelings are "bitter". This also shows that he wishes he had come from a family who were more of an upper class, than the family he was brought up with, because then maybe Estella would have treated him better. ...read more.

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