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How does Dickens reflect character in his setting, and how effectively does he make use of symbols and images?

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Introduction

How does Dickens reflect character in his setting, and how effectively does he make use of symbols and images? I will look at how Charles Dickens reflects character by his setting and his effective use of imagery and symbols in Great Expectations. The beginning of the story is set in a graveyard. So there is an eerie, melancholy atmosphere. The cemetery is described as "bleak place overgrown with nettles" "Dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes and mounds". This description makes the reader not want to "be here", uncomfortable and tense. "Low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing was the sea" The image of the sea makes Pip seem vulnerable and lost. Dickens describes the horizon as "low leaden line" He uses alliteration which makes the landscape seem never-ending and dangerous. The mist symbolizes uncertainty and danger. The phrase "distant savage lair" is a subtle hint that an uncivilized, animal like person is near. "[Magwitch] started up among the graves" Its as though Magwitch is a corpse. ...read more.

Middle

He sounds like a young, innocent child. Its as though Magwitch is so sad that he would rather live in a pond all his life than carry on living the way he is. Miss Havisham's house, Satis , is described, as though it's a prison " windows were rustily barred" "great many iron bars" "courtyard in front ....barred" "old brick". This makes Miss Havisham seem more like a prisoner. And it indicates that Pip isn't going to have a good time here. The inactive "pretty large brewery" and the beautiful, large house symbolize how Miss.Havisham also has a lot of potential. But has also just been abandoned. Dickens starts to describe Miss Havisham positively for an example" she had bridal flowers in her hair" " bright jewels sparkled in her neck" " was dressed in rich materials" so later the reader is shocked when they realize the truth that she is more corpse like" bride within the bridal dress had withered" "no brightness of her sunken eyes: "figure....shrunk to skin and bone" "long veil so like a shroud" The darkness in Miss.Havisham's room - " No glimpse of daylight was seen"connotes impenetrability, depression, and death. ...read more.

Conclusion

" Heavily overhung with cobwebs" "hung with reluctant smoke ". She is "overhung" with sadness and reluctance to let go over the past. Just after Estella makes Pip cry, Dickens uses a metaphor to describe what happened. "It was a deserted place, down to the pigeon-house in the brewery yard, which had been blown crooked on its pole by some high wind, and would have made the pigeons think themselves at sea". Here the pigeons are representing Pip. The high wind represents Estella. Estella has "blown" Pip "crooked" by telling him he is common and has bad hands. Estella has damaged Pip's feelings about himself. Just like the high wind which has damaged the birdhouse. Pip is now lead astray into thinking he is not good enough, like the pigeons who falsely think they're at sea. So Dicken's use of symbols and imagery is quite effective. . For an example the imagery in the first chapter of the story immediately made the reader feel tense i.e. the weather. And Satis symbolising Miss.Havisham was also impressive. It is intriguing to see different interpretations of symbols from people in Dicken's books. The symbols and images are the language of our unconscious mind. Eng Essay on Great Expectations ...read more.

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