Essay Great Expectations Chapter One

The author establishes in the first few paragraphs of the book the fact that Pip is quite alone in the world. Pip, who narrates the story, says that he gives "Pirrip as (his) father's name, on the authority of his tombstone." Pip goes on to observe that he "never saw (his) father or (his) mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them." The only impression the boy has of his parents are those derived from the writing on their tombstones; he has the "odd idea that (his father) was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair," and that his mother "was freckeld and sickly." The picture that the author creates of Pip is of a small child completely alone in the world, denied the warmth and love of his parents, with only the cold, hard reality of their tombstones to remember them by. His one contact with any sort of family at all is with his sister, Mrs. Joe Gargery, but the author indicates through her name and a direct specification, that her primary loyalties belong to another, her husband, before the child with whose care she has been saddled.

The author goes on to intensify the impression of the absolute isolation of the child Pip by describing his siblings, who are also all dead. These young brothers exist in Pip's world as "five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long...arranged in a neat row beside (their parents') graves." They are at least united with their parents in death, while Pip remains on earth, alone and unloved, first in the life of no one. Pip is a pathetic character, helpless and solitary, who has only the cold, hard tombstones of his parents and siblings to substitute for what should have been an environment in which he might have been surrounded with human warmth and love.

The author uses setting and atmosphere to emphasize the insignificance and helpless loneliness of the main character, Pip. The cemetery is a place of death and bereavement, and at night, in the fog, it is a cold and frightening place. The author uses language to create stark images of the lifelessness of Pip's parents and brothers, portraying them as tombstones, large and small. Even the name he gives his central character, "Pip," denotes a miniscule figure with little influence or power (Chapter 1).

Great Expectations Essay

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Show how Chapter 1 of Great Expectations is effective. How does Dickens ensure his readers to continue to read the novel?

In this essay, I will be analysing what kind of techniques such as: characterisation, setting, atmosphere, themes and effective language Dickens uses to ensure his readers to gain an interest in the novel and continue to read on in Chapter 1 of ‘Great Expectations’. Charles John Huffam Dickens was born on 7th February 1812 in Portsmouth, England and died on 9th June 1870 in Kent, England.

Dickens was a well-known English novelist back in the Victorian period but until this day, Charles Dickens remains popular and his novels are still read by thousands each day. Dickens novels are extremely famous, especially ‘The Christmas Carol’, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ and ‘David Copperfield’ just to name a few. ‘Great Expectations’ was first published very uniquely in a serialised form. It was published in weekly instalments of 2 chapters a week in a literary magazine with the name of ‘All the Year Round’.

The weekly instalments started from 1st December 1860 until August 1861, which meant it took almost a year to be fully published. ‘Great Expectations’ is about a young orphan boy named Pip who walks on a very rocky road as he lives his life. The main theme in this novel is ‘Rags to Riches’ because it is about a poor boy that climbs from poverty to wealth. Back in the Victorian England times, orphans were badly mistreated and were sent to work or get thrown out in the streets. The opening chapter starts off effectively as it starts off with a very intense and chilling atmosphere.

It makes readers ask one question in their minds: “What will Pip do? ” In the first chapter, we are introduced to the young orphan boy named Pip who this novel is written about and also an escaped convict, Magwitch. In this novel, it is narrated by Pip in first person. We know this because the novel is started off with “So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip”. The main character Pip is described as an orphan and he often visits his dead parents grave in the cemetery. This creates sympathy for readers because Dickens makes Pip as a young, orphan boy who is lonely and has no one to love or anyone to love him. as I never saw any likeness of either of them” This quote makes us feel sorry for Pip as he states that he has never met his parents before and lives on from imagining what they looked like from their gravestones. The convict Magwitch turns up at the cemetery and startles Pip by threatening him saying “You get me a file… Or I’ll have your heart and liver out” This quote states that he is seeking desperate help by threatening Pip to get a file to break the chains around his ankles. This makes readers think that he is a bloodcurdling man and he could do some damage if anyone disobeyed his orders.

The definition of setting is a place or type of surroundings where an event takes place. The weather in Chapter 1 was windy, cold and “the rains were heavy”. Dickens gives an impression that it is a very gothic setting because the way he describes the atmosphere and the setting. The setting is a graveyard, known for burying dead bodies and being depressing, lonely and dark. Pip describe the graveyard for being a “bleak place overgrown with nettles”, this gives us an image of a dark, gothic place.

Also, the landscape is described as the “dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard” The descriptions guides us readers to feel anxious for Pip because we all know no one can help Pip as he and the convict are alone in the miserable cemetery and no one can hear his plea for help… The atmosphere in the opening chapter sends chills down our spines. It is a highly effective way to start the novel because it starts off with Pip’s life on edge. This makes readers cling onto the book with fear and read on see what will happen to Pip. His eyes looked most powerfully down into mine, and mine most helplessly up into his” Dickens chooses the words “powerfully” and “helplessly” as it explains the situation with Pip and the convict. It creates tension and assures readers that Pip is a weak, little orphan who is being held by a powerful convict. The novel ends in a dramatic way and makes readers curious. Pip tells the convict that he will fetch him the file and meet up with him early in the morning. Humour is used when the convict intimidates Pip by turning him upside down.

The main themes in the novel are childhood, rags-to-riches, society and class and orphan. The novel is opened with Pip as a poor young, orphan boy who has no relatives apart from his sister, Mrs Joe Gargary. Society and class relate to ‘Great Expectations’ because Pip is of lower class and gets looked down on and he had big dreams of growing up to be a gentlemen. Rags-to-riches is also a main theme in this novel because Pip is in poverty right at the start as a young boy but grows up inheriting a lot of money and becomes wealthy.

A cliff hanger is a brilliant way of ending a chapter or novel. It leaves a character hanging off the cliff and is mostly used for effect. The purpose of a cliff hanger is to make readers feel like dying of curiosity and desperate to find out what happens next, to turn the next page. A cliff-hanger is used in Chapter 1 as Magwitch had demanded Pip to bring him a file or Pip will die. It leaves readers wondering if Pip will get it for him or not and asking multiple questions. Charles Dickens extremely talented writing skills have made everyone desire to read on.

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The most effective technique for he has used in my opinion, was the way he used the cliff hanger. It makes readers cling onto their seats. “What will Pip do? ” “Will Pip die? ” “Will Magwitch hunt Pip down? ” “Will Pip get Magwitch the file? ” “Will Magwitch trick Pip into something more? ” are some of the unanswered, endless questions readers ask in their minds. Another effective technique Dickens has used is the variety of themes he has used such as childhood: bildungsroman. This makes us curious to see how Pip will grow up and if his dreams of being a gentleman will be fulfilled.

Author: Royce Ballin

in Great Expectations

Great Expectations Essay

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