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Show how Dickens has created atmosphere and tension through his descriptions of setting and characters in the extracts Chapter 1 " Great Expectations(TM) and Chapter 47 " Oliver Twist(TM)

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Introduction

Show how Dickens has created atmosphere and tension through his descriptions of setting and characters in the extracts 'Chapter 1 - Great Expectations' and 'Chapter 47 - Oliver Twist' This essay will address how Charles Dickens builds up tension and atmosphere in the two extracts, from Great Expectations (Chapter 1 - Pip in the Churchyard) and Oliver Twist (Chapter 47 - Fatal Consequences), by analysing the main characters in each, the setting, language and dialogue and lastly the structures, and notify how Dickens keeps the reader engaged through the usage of these techniques. The extract being observed from Great Expectations is the opening chapter and set in a graveyard, immediately introducing the reader to a dismal and sinister atmosphere, which is contributed to by harsh vocabulary, such as 'raw afternoon' and 'distant savage lair'. These phrases give the reader a sense of the scene Dickens is trying to create, by making it come across as brutal through the intense language. He is trying to make the setting appear overwhelming against someone small, and so he contrasts Pip, an innocent orphan boy, against such a bleak and unwelcoming environment, and by doing so adds to the simplicity of this character. This builds up tension, and portrays the conception that the setting and environment are being made to reflect the emotions of the character, in this case Pip. ...read more.

Middle

The latter enables a greater sense of understanding of the situation atmospherically, for it would be as if the reader were looking down upon the situation (and hence from an outside viewpoint), and so rather than seeing the scene through the eyes of a character, a less influenced view on the situation is portrayed, creating a greater understanding of the atmosphere as a whole. Now the techniques used in Dickens' Great Expectations have been analysed, those of Chapter 47 of Oliver Twist, 'Fatal Consequences' shall be investigated, and any similarities or variations in the methods used will be observed. The opening paragraph sets the scene for the majority of the chapter, and Dickens uses phrases such as 'dead of night' and 'even sound appears to slumber' to establish a sinister atmosphere, which creates a sense of tension in the idea that the setting is isolated and mysterious. The reader's interest is sustained for they become intrigued to know what will happen next, and at the same time suspicious based around the enigmatic surroundings. The language choice of the first paragraph suggests that as well as a tense atmosphere, it is a time when evil might be dwelling, right as Fagin is introduced to the scene. The setting is 'nearly two-hours before day-break', adding a sense of darkness to the scene, which may also give the impression that Fagin possesses ...read more.

Conclusion

The scene moves quite quickly, for much of its context is dialogue, and in the strain of the atmosphere the reader automatically interprets this to be read quickly - in Nancy's case as a plea for her life, and in that of Sikes' out of rage. Any description that has been included is depicting the actions of the characters, which the majority of the time are awkward and impulsive, again conveying how the scene is fast moving. 'The man struggled violently, to release his arms; but those of the girl were clasped around his,' shows how both characters were in an awkward position, again portraying tension between them, which the reader is also forced to feel when visualizing the moment. The final part of the chapter is built upon impulse as Sikes eventually kills Nancy, though as Dickens says 'the murderer was shutting out the sight with his hand' as he did so, this is immediately conveying how on a certain level he acted against his will as if he couldn't watch himself do it, yet felt the need that he had to. By writing this final part as an impulsive act by this character, Dickens is making the scene move more quickly, for the reader is in a way seeing things on Sikes' terms and reading instinctively quickly. Through this, the atmosphere becomes tenser for time seems to be moving faster, and the reader feels the need to find out the outcome of the scene. ...read more.

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