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In what way does Dickens create vivid images of character and setting in the opening chapter to "Great Expectations"?

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Introduction

Prose Study: In what way does Dickens create vivid images of character and setting in the opening chapter to "Great Expectations"? Charles Dickens wrote "Great Expectations" in 1860. It is known for being a dark, atmospheric novel, set in 19th Century. Dickens is widely known today for the success of his novels, and his excellence in using fictional, atmospheric places in "Great Expectations" to reflect the minds of characters and to explore significant themes, such as class, crime, and love. The narrator of "Great Expectations" is Pip and the use of first person narrative gives the reader Pip's perception and point of the story. To add, "Great Expectations" is a retrospective novel, a grown man looking back on his life. To summarise the events of chapter one, we are introduced to the main protagonist Pip as a young boy. He is wandering in the graveyard with curiosity wanting to know who his parents were when an escaped convict grabs him and threatens him with violence unless he helps him. ...read more.

Middle

The second describes the harsh environment which isolated and bare that surrounds him. This is deliberately done so we feel sympathy for him. The introduction of the convict builds more atmosphere in this scene as when he first speaks he says a short sentence which breaks up the rest of the scene in comparison with the long complex sentences at the beginning of the chapter. "Hold your noise!" The short opening speech startles and interests the reader - form of ellipsis. We learn that Magwitch is not educated. Instead of "point" he says "Pint" and "Now lookee here". Thus giving the reader an impression that he is working class. The convict's appearance does not seem to be welcoming as his dress code is rather shabby. As the convict approaches Pip he becomes scared and fears him, he describes him as being. "... a fearful man all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. ...read more.

Conclusion

These colours signify sinister and violence and alert the reader of death gloom and fear. Dickens's purposely casts a gloomy atmosphere in the scene of the story to make people realise how horrible things were at that time. We learn that Pip is situated in the marshlands of Kent. As mentioned before we first meet the main protagonist Pip, in the graveyard near his home. The landscape is described as "dark flat wilderness" and a "bleak place." The graveyard is described as "all overgrown with nettles." The use of monosyllabic words "bleak" and "dark" make the setting seem dark and desolate. Overall the opening chapter of Great Expectations was written with a cold and dark mood, almost dull in the first few paragraphs and quickly moves to an intense, fearful, and dangerous situation. Dickens use of dark colours and a graveyard for setting to make the scene seem more atmospheric. It was particularly effective to have Pip in the midst of all this, though it shows a high level of contrast and almost seem improper that a young innocent child such as him could possibly be in the position he was. ...read more.

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