Connor Witherington 10T – Mrs Stephens.
G.c.s.e Coursework – Great Expectations
Charles Dickens is famous for his unforgettable characters. Some of his most renowned characters are to be found in ‘Great Expectations’ a truly classic novel.
Pip is a genuinely nice character. His mother and father, and this is what it says on his fathers gravestone “Georgina wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias and Roger, were also dead and buried.” This immediately makes the reader feel sympathy towards Pip because it is very traumatic to lose one family member let alone seven! So he was left with his sister Mrs Joe Gargery, who is married to Joe Gargery a blacksmith. She raised him ‘by hand’ to keep him in order. She thinks that Pip owes her for all that she’s done for him. She is very sarcastic and vindictive, but Joe Gargery is a very quiet, kind man who loves and cares for Pip like his own son. He wants to take Pip under his wing and make him a blacksmiths apprentice. Similarly it is Pips dream to work with Joe. Joe is like a father figure to Pip, almost like the father he never met. This gives the reader a sense of satisfaction knowing that Pip has someone to depend on. Pip imagined his father to be a ‘square, stout, dark man with curly black hair,’ he thinks this because of the shape of the letters on his gravestone. Alternatively he thinks of his mother as a ‘freckled and sickly woman.’ He knows that the assumptions of the looks of his mother are probably wrong when he says ‘I drew a childish conclusion’. Whereas Miss Havisham is a rich eccentric woman who has an extremely extravagant personality, with an odd background. She was in love in her early life and was due to be married but the day came and her husband to be left her standing at the altar, he also stole a large amount of money from her. This turned her love to hatred and made her hate the male race. She lived her life in such an odd way, this is shown when Pip says “No glimpse of daylight was to be seen in it”- referring to her house and he saw that her “watch had stopped at twenty minutes to nine” the very time she was to be married. This was symbolic that her life had ended at that time. When Pip says “I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes”
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She was going to have children but she couldn’t bring herself to ever love another man. She adopted a young girl called Estella and had evil plans to mould her into her own image having the same hatred and bitterness towards males. Miss Havisham successfully twists Estellas mind, this is shown to the reader when Estella say’s “With this boy! Why, he is a common labouring boy!” This shows that she has become a vindictive snob. The reader cant help but feel sorry for Estella, because she never had a choice in her personality. She wasn’t allowed to socialise, so she did not have the chance to gain friends or craft her own personality.
Miss Havisham and Mrs Joe Gargery are similar kinds of women. They are both strong determined women and they both have a dislike of the male sex.
Pip meets Magwitch for the first time in a graveyard where he is observing his families graves. It’s dusk, and a graveyard is a scary place in daylight let alone after dark. This makes the reader feel sympathetic towards Pip because he is a child in a dark, lonesome graveyard all alone or so he thinks. Magwitch shouts ‘keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throat’ this makes the reader fear for Pips safety. It is no accident that this scene is set in a graveyard and Pip is threatened, because Dickens wants the reader to almost expect something bad to happen.
Pip meets Miss Havisham for the first time at her home which is a grand mansion. It was once a dream home but since she has neglected her responsibilities within it has become derelict and ram shackled. Pip feels uncomfortable in Miss Havishams house because it is very grand compared to his humble home.
Miss Havisham’s really gives Pip a hard time. She treats him as an inferior and makes him feel worthless. She’s taking her anger against the male sex out on Pip. She and Estella both act superior in every way to Pip. Estella makes Pip feel worthless when she says ‘And what coarse hands he has. And what thick boots” this makes it plain that she thinks he is common and beneath her socially. Pip thinks “I had never thought of being ashamed of my hands before.” The reader must feel sympathy for Pip because Estella has succeeded in making Pip feel self conscious. Pip doesn’t realise that Miss Havisham is plotting and scheming to make him fall in love with her daughter. this makes the reader feel sympathetic towards him because he doesn’t know what’s happening.
Pip speaks to Miss Havisham with the utmost respect and politeness, perhaps out of fear. This is shown when he addresses her as ma’am.
Dickens varies his use of sentences. He uses compound sentences when he is setting the scene. An example of this the sentence that opens the book. “My fathers family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Phillip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip.” When he is building tension, he uses smaller sentences to give a short, sharp, jolt in the readers mind. An example of this is when Pip and Magwitch are in the graveyard and Magwitch says “you get me a file.” He tilted me again. “And you get me wittles.” He tilted me again. “you bring em both to me.” He tilted me again. “Or I’ll have your heart and liver out.” He tilted me again.
Charles Dickens is a wonderful story teller. He made social comment about the times he lived. He not only delivers gripping action but in his tales there are subtle morals. He really seems to understand human nature and all its many characteristics.