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How does Dickens use language effectively to create mood and atmosphere in chapter one of the novel Great Expectations?

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How does Dickens use language effectively to create mood and atmosphere in chapter one of the novel Great Expectations? In the novel, Great Expectations, Dickens uses good language to create an atmosphere and introduce characters to the readers. At the beginning of the first chapter we are introduced to the main character Pip. In the first paragraph we are given the first piece of information about Pip. Dickens sets up Pip's persona by firstly explaining his name (Pip) and how he came to be called this. Dickens explains (as if Pip was talking) that Pip's full name (Phillip Pirrip) was too long, and his 'infant tongue' could manage nothing more explicit than Pip! The reference to 'infant tongue' suggests Pip is still of a young age, and the short simple sentence (i.e. 'So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip') also suggests he is a youth. He also refers to his father ('my fathers family name'), linking to the second paragraph and the significance of his family background. In paragraph two, Dickens begins to tell us more about Pips' background, situation and personality. The fact that Pip is a child is emphasised in this paragraph by the way he talks simply and honestly about his life. This is shown when he explains 'My sister, Mrs Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith'. ...read more.


We can make this assumption of the identity of the character by reading Pip's description of the 'fearful man, wearing coarse grey' (suggesting he looks rough and his clothes are torn like he has been running) and 'great iron on his leg' (prisoners of Dickens era were forced to wear iron shackles on their legs and were kept on prison boats moored on the shore, we already know from the text that Pip lives near the sea). We can tell from this that he has escaped as the iron is still attached to his leg. We get a profile of the convict's character from the evidence in the way he acts towards and talks to Pip. The convict uses such violent language as "keep still you little devil or I'll cut your throat", "You young dog" and "what fat cheeks you got, darn me if I couldn't eat em!" This shows he is obviously a very dangerous and intimidating man. The convict also seizes Pip by the chin, turns him upside down to 'empty his pockets' and tilts him back so "his eyes looked most powerfully down into mine". All this evidence shows the convict is sly and knows how to get what he wants by intimidation. He knows how to play on this small boys innocence by using violent language and brutality. ...read more.


It also gives a sense that the convict is close to death (being dragged into graves). In the last section of the chapter, dickens creates a very dramatic visual image of Pip looking out at his surroundings. Dickens creates a striking vision of hell by describing Pip seeing the marshes as 'a long black horizontal line', then the rivers as another, 'yet not nearly so broad, yet not so black' and then the sky as 'just a row of long angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed.' The descriptions of the colours red and black portray the vision of hell as the black represents death and the red blood/danger, these are colours often associated with pain, death and hell. Dickens describes the lines as 'angry', also suggesting the atmosphere is uneasy and volatile (like hell). Dickens adds to the drama of the description by adding the image of the gibbet (associated with death). We can see how Pip must be frightened as we can relate to the horror of this well-decorated/descripted image. We also see Pip having a childlike imagination, when he pictures the convict being a dead pirate to which the chains on the gibbet 'had once held'. The chapter ends on an uneasy note, with Pip announcing his fear ('Now I was frightened again'), bringing a sense of reality to the chapter, then him 'running home without stopping'. This leaves the chapter full of mystery and encourages readers to find out what happens to Pip. ...read more.

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