Chapter One of Great Expectations

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What is the Significance of Chapter One of Great Expectations in

Relation to the Novel as a Whole?

'Great Expectations' is a novel written by Charles Dickens and is

considered to be one of his best stories. The plot follows a young boy

named Phillip Pirrip or 'Pip' and it focuses on his growth as he

matures from a young boy into a fully grown man. He had always had

great expectations of himself, wishing to become someone of high

social class - as this was set and written in the Victorian era when

social class was a huge factor of society - and when he ends up

visiting an eccentric woman called Miss Haversham he meets a beautiful

young girl called Estella who becomes more important later on. After

he discovers that he has a secret benefactor who begins to fund his

life. Pip assumes that this benefactor is Miss Haversham but the truth

is that it is a criminal, who Pip helped as a child, called Magwitch

and when Pip discovers this at the age of 23 he despises the idea that

his success is due to a criminal's money. Pip became dependant on the

money causing himself to fall into dabts and so Pip loses his fortune

and ends up, socially, where he started.

From chapter one you get the impression that Pip is vulnerable. From

the first three lines the reader becomes familiar with Pip as it is an

introduction in the first person narrative and it gives background

information on his parents and how he came about getting the nickname,

almost like a prologue. It also sets the time period "(for their days

were long before the days of photographs)" referring to his parents.

The nickname 'Pip' may have been selected for many reasons, one reason

might be that the word sounds very small and vulnerable as the

character of ...

... middle of paper ... Magwitch is uneducated,

carefully placing mistakes in his grammar when he talks "And you know

what wittles is?"

In conclusion I believe that chapter one is very significant because

it sets the scene and establishes the mood, setting, themes and

character. It also leaves you wondering at the end of the chapter who

this Magwitch is and where he comes from, also why he has been

chained. This sense of mystery is also left at the end of the book

when he and Estella depart as adults and it say "I saw no shadow of

another parting from her", now this has two meanings it could mean

that the next time they met they never left each other and lived

together forever or it could mean that they never saw each other

again. It kind of, at the end, leaves an opening as if it could carry

on and maybe it was meant to carry on in the newspaper or magazine and

never did.
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