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How does Dickens present Pip’s childhood in the first three chapters of “Great Expectations”?

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Introduction

How does Dickens present Pip's childhood in the first three chapters of "Great Expectations"? At the time or era in which Dickens wrote "Great Expectations", children were exploited, they were used for jobs such as chimney sweeps because they were small and could get up the chimney easily, or put to work in factories because they had small hands so they could make things. Children were usually ignored and there was lot of infant mortality. Pip lives in Kent by the marshes with his sister and a blacksmith. Pip has never seen his parents and feels very lonely; his sister has brought him up "by hand". Pip would have been considered lucky to have escaped infant mortality, unlike his five brothers who are buried in the graveyard. Pip is asking questions most of the time about his parents or just inquiring about something unknown which his sister doesn't like. She is very impatient and doesn't see things from a child's point of view. Pip's sister doesn't support Pip at all; on the other hand the blacksmith, Pip's sister's husband, is friendly towards Pip. Pip is very confused about his parents. ...read more.

Middle

If I was Mrs.Joe now, I would take a course in children's psychology. Pip had been brought up "by hand", which Pip takes to mean smacking a child but in fact Pip had not had the advantage of being breast fed. "Tickler" is used to hit Pip, which is a piece of cane, with an end of wax. Dickens uses this humorously because Pip says Tickler is worn by the "collision" with his "tickled frame". This humour adds softness to the roughness and abuse for the benefit of the reader. Mrs.Joe calls him "young monkey" because he is always naughty and is always at the graveyard. Pip says that he often serves as a "connubial missile", by being flung into Mr.Joe. Mrs.Joe tries to make Pip feel guilty by saying that he would have "been in the graveyard a long time ago" if she hadn't been around and saying she brought him up all by herself. Dickens exaggerates her characteristics in the bread cutting in "jamming" the loaf and "slapping" the butter onto the bread which shows she is determined and violent which is conveyed in a caricature. ...read more.

Conclusion

In Chapter Two at the end Pip is "stealing" food, or wittles, and a file to wear down the handcuffs and chains. Pip thinks he is being kind but he also feels guilty for stealing and paranoid if Mrs.Joe found out and "tickled" him. All these different emotions obviously confuse Pip, something that a small boy shouldn't go through, Pip thinks that if he doesn't bring the food and the file he might be killed by the convicts. Pip is very grown up about things and is very mature and is concerned about others' feelings. He never really has a special playtime; he never actually plays any games apart from the bread game with Joe. As I mentioned earlier Pip starts to feel guilty about stealing from Mrs.Joe and Joe because he is a very truthful and honest boy because of this he fears staying out too long in case Mrs.Joe finds out. Pip is restricted from doing many things. I thought that the first three chapters of Dickens "Great Expectations" was an excellent read. It contains all the possible emotions and draws you into the book straight away. I would love to read on as I enjoy the way Dickens uses humour in several places of the first three chapters to lighten the bleakness of Pip's childhood. ...read more.

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