Irony in Great Expectations

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Irony in Great Expectations

In the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, irony was the main element for

developing the many complex plots that occurred. Pip, the main character of the novel, was

fairly young in the beginning of the story. Being the main character, Pip was the one who was

involved in most of the situations. Irony is used excessively throughout the novel to make the plot and characters more vivid and intense. This can be seen in Pip's actions, his relationship

with Estella, and Joe.

From the very beginning of the novel, Pip was characterized as a harmless, caring boy, who draws much sympathy from the readers even though he is at that point where he is content

with his common life. The story started off in the graveyard, which complemented the first actual

conflict of the novel. "...and the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard intersected with

dikes and mounds, and gates with scattered cattle feeding on it was the marshes..."(pg.10)

Dickens uses the setting not only to inform his audience about Pip's environment, but to prepare

the readers for a sudden confrontation. In the marshes there was a convict who had threatened to

kill Pip if he didn't do what he was told. "Keep still you little devil, or I will cut your throat."(pg.10) Dickens' use of situational irony was used to shock his readers. Here a young
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"orphan" goes to visit the grave of his parents, and he gets attacked by a convict. Pip steals food

and a file from his home to bring it for his attacker in hope for keeping his life. Irony is evident

here as Pip felt guilty for stealing, his sense of guilt was a result of the fear of being killed by a

convict. Even though he aids the convict, the reader's sympathy for Pip soon increases, as his

robbery of his own home weighs greatly on his conscience. "I felt ...

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