Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

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Through the first pages of Charles Dickens novel “Great Expectations” it is effective in showing a life history of the main character Pip and presenting him to the responder. Dickens goal is to play upon the responders emotions and he achieves this through strong emotions and beliefs and the use of social comment.

The first pages of “Great Expectations” is a simple clear cut description of the working class and young children during the 18th and 19th centuries. Dickens begins to present the life of Philip ‘Pip’ Pirrip who is part of this working class genre. From the opening paragraph we are given insight into the education or lack of when that young Philip’s “infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip”. The way in which this is told suggests that it is all in the past and Pip is reminiscing on his past.

Pip continues his early history by informing the responder about his family: mother, father, five brothers and sisters. Pip explains “since I never sat my mother or father… my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones.” This quote is evoking and places a great deal of sympathy upon Pip. This ties in with Pips description of life with it’s sad and dismal childhood.
Pip then introduces his feelings and memories towards his brothers “five stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long”. As this quote suggest his brothers are all dead and Pip gives the impression of slight ignorance to the situation. The audience is told of the one sole relative who is Mrs Joe Gargery, who is the wife of the local blacksmith.

Dickens continues to write Pip as retelling his early childhood. This entire section is devoted to a long, bleak and even scary description of his town in the “marsh country, down near the river, within…. 20 miles of the sed”. Dickens writes Pip as using words such as “bleak” and “overgrown” and using phrases such as “Dark, flat wilderness” to describe the marshes, “low leaden line” to describe the river and “distant savage lair” to describe the sea. Perhaps the most realistic and sympathy arousing description is when Pip describes himself in context to the rest of the landscape- “and that small bundle of shivers afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip”. This is so effective due to the fact everyone can relate to a feeling of fear or sadness at one time or another.

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