• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Show how Dickens uses settings in Great Expectations to enhance our understanding of character and the symbolic elements of the plot - Great expectations

Extracts from this document...


Show how Dickens uses settings in Great Expectations to enhance our understanding of character and the symbolic elements of the plot As we notice in the novel 'Great Expectations', Charles Dickens uses many different narrative techniques other than the usual description. One of these techniques is that of describing character through a specific setting. There are a few of these very detailed descriptions in chapter eight (Satis House), chapter twenty (Mr. Jaggers' office), chapter twenty-one (Barnard's Inn), chapter twenty-five (Wemmick's castle) and chapter twenty-six (Mr. Jaggers' house). When Pip first arrives at Satis House (chapter 8 pages 52-53) we have a great description of the setting, and by looking at the adjectives we get more of an idea of the atmosphere it conforms to: "old", "dismal", "empty", "disused", "walled up, "enclosed" and "rustily barred". There is an overall sense of dilapidation, and the last three adjectives in particular remind us of the image of a prison, which appears throughout the whole book. ...read more.


It is a "dismal" place (Dickens repeats this word four times in one sentence), "melancholic", "rotten", "dilapidated", "crippled", "cracked", "collapsing", "miserable" and "empty" (chapter 21 page 168). In this setting, other than the element of ruin there is an element of death present, especially in the following two sentences: "A frouzy mourning of soot and smoke" (mourning is usually meant by the remembrance of the deceased) and "I opened the staircase window and nearly beheaded myself...it came down like the guillotine" (chapter 21 page 169). Wemmick's castle is one of the most 'normal' households in 'Great Expectations'. It is situated in the district of Walworth, which already tells us something about it and its inhabitants: that they are worth something. It is "a little wooden cottage in the midst of plots of garden, and the top of it cut out and painted like a battery mounted with guns" (chapter 25 page 202). It is an extremely small house, the smallest house Pip ever saw, but its particularity is that it is made to resemble by many means a castle. ...read more.


Jaggers' home is located in the district of Little Britain, which means it encloses most of the negative aspects of life in Britain in those days. It is "dolefully in want of painting, and with dirty windows" (chapter 26 page 207). The house is made up of a "stone hall, bare gloomy and little used" and "three dark brown rooms on the first floor"(chapter 26 page 207). The "carved garlands on the panelled walls" (chapter 26 page 207) remind Pip of nooses, returning to the element of death. We also notice that Mr. Jaggers' bookcase contains only books about "evidence, criminal law, criminal biography, trials and acts of parliament", and that there is also a "little table of papers with a shaded lamp" (chapter 26 page 208): unlike Wemmick, he has no private life, but brings his work home too. He has no family, no friends: the only important thing in his life is his job. From this analysis we can see that in 'Great Expectations' Dickens uses very successfully many other different narrative techniques other than basic description, and that the portrayal of settings can give us a great deal of information on character and other aspects. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Charles Dickens section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Charles Dickens essays

  1. the portrayal of children and family relationships in A Christmas Carol by Dickens

    Tim's death, Dickens writes in a style that shows he is shocked of how the atmosphere differs in both scenes, he uses repetition to show the mellow atmosphere "quiet, very quiet". Dickens gives us the impression that he is unsure whether these are really the Cratchits, the repetition worked well

  2. Compare chapter one of Great Expectations(TM) in which Pip first meets the convict, with ...

    In both chapters the unpleasantness turns into something life changing to Pip. In chapter one Pip meets a convict who needs his help and throughout the story the convict does his best to pay Pip back. In chapter thirty nine we see the convict reveal himself as Pip's benefactor and

  1. Social class in Great Expectations and its effect upon the characters

    Furthermore, the darkness and dust associated with Satis house is captured by imagery which is exemplified in passages describing Satis House; 'old brick and dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it'. Dickens includes the bleak description possibly to represent the lives of its occupants and to form the general outlook of upper class society.

  2. How does Dickens use setting to convey the mood in the opening chapters of ...

    The second chapter shows Pip in a new setting - at home. Here, Pip lives a strict and ordered life, where he must always be on his best behaviour. His sister, Mrs Joe, regards him as a burden on her, and does not hold back in letting him know so.

  1. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

    This caused terrible diseases and premature death. On the other hand, children turned to theft or pick pocketing as a last resort, simply in order to survive. The sympathy that Dickens creates in other characters in the first paragraph is when he said he lives with his sister, Mrs.

  2. Discuss how Dickens creates sadness in Book the Second

    and this also creates empathy for Stephan as the reader sees this trustworthy man falling into yet another hole which will lead him into problems. When Tom, Louisa and the old lady had left, Stephan walked Rachel home. When they reached her house "they were both afraid to speak" for the sheer sadness they felt at departing.

  1. Explore Joe Gargery's role in Great Expectations

    Joe, even though he is perhaps the most uneducated character (shown in the wording of the sentence) he can sometimes be the most wise and honourable. Because of this he acts as a hidden role model for Pip. Not only is he honourable and wise, he understands his place: ?I

  2. How successful is Dickens in gaining our interest as readers in the opening chapter ...

    create the sense that the convict will return, largely by building up a sense of mystery around the convict?s situation and his relationship with Pip. Dickens creates sympathy for Pip by making it explicitly clear that he has been deprived of parental guidance.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work