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Is chapter one of Great Expectations an effective beginning to the novel?

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Introduction

Laura Swallow 11R1 Is chapter one of Great Expectations an effective beginning to the novel? Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations under a large amount of pressure, but this did not diminish the quality of his novel. In the nineteenth century novels of this kind were published in weekly instalments in magazines. The first instalment was published before Dickens had even questioned the rest of the storyline. To go with the pressure of writing these instalments in such short spaces of time, Dickens had to make each one uniquely exciting and unpredictable so the reader would buy the magazine week after to week to find out what happens in the novel. Dickens managed to capture the reader each week by using, suspense, humour and mystery throughout the novel. Dickens used these devices a great deal in the first chapter of Great Expectations to encourage people to buy the magazine, All the Year Round, each week. Dickens succeeds in composing an effective beginning to the novel because of the setting he chooses, the characters, the language as well as his use of narrative style in the chapter. We eventually find out that this powerful beginning is the source of all conclusions, which are reached towards the end of this dramatic novel. ...read more.

Middle

The very beginning makes us sympathise with Pip and we already begin to understand how pathetic his childhood would have been. The concept that he "could make of both names...Philip Pirrip...nothing longer or more explicit than Pip" begins to unravel the sorrow this young boy has encountered in his childhood. We also sympathise with Pip's insecurity in the "graveyard" as he is "a small bundle of shivers....growing afraid" of everything as he begins to "cry". We are not surprised by Pip's vulnerability as later on in the novel it is established that Pip is only around seven years and he feels very isolated not only in this situation but in his life. Dickens has succeeded in gaining the readers sympathy for Pip in this first chapter by showing the imagination and desolation of this young child. Dickens uses many concepts of language to help make this chapter an effective beginning to the novel. Pip's description of the convict when he first appears sounds a great deal longer than it actually is. Dickens repeats the word "and" when describing the convicts wounds and the convict to express the appearance of this criminal. Pip describes the convict as a man "who limped, and shivered, and glared, and growled". ...read more.

Conclusion

This more intelligent Pip invites us to ridicule the younger Pip and as we lampoon him we realise how gullible Pip used to be. Pip believes the convict when he says his "heart....shall be tore out roasted and ate" by a "young man" the convict has "hid" with him if he does not obey his wishes. The convict has no man with him but Pip believes every word the convict has to say and we laugh at his naivety. Although chapter one of Great Expectations is not consecutively the beginning of the novel, it is certainly a very important part of the story as a whole. Magwitch disappears from the story in Chapter five and does not re-appear until chapter thirty-nine, but we do not forget about him. As the story goes on and Miss Havisham tricks Pip into falling in love with Estella we begin to question the connection Magwitch has with the rest of the story. After his re-appearance in chapter thirty-nine it all becomes clear of the essential role Magwitch plays in the story and chapter one becomes an all too important fragment of the novel. Leaving us questioning Magwitchs relevance in the novel makes it an effective beginning as it gets the reader involved in the novel. We continue to question the convict's appearance on the moors until chapter thirty-nine when he returns to Britain and reveals he is the source of Pip's fortune, not Miss Havisham as Pip first thought. ...read more.

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