Dickens' Creation of Sympathy for His Characters in Great Expectations

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Dickens' Creation of Sympathy for His Characters in Great Expectations Charles Dickens was born on February 7th 1812, the son of John and Elizabeth Dickens. John Dickens was a clerk in the naval pay office. He had a poor head for finances and in 1824 found himself imprisoned for debt. His wife and children (with the exception of Charles) were, as was normal, imprisoned with him. Charles was put to work at Warren's Blacking Factory, where conditions were terrible. When his father was released he was twelve and already scarred psychologically by the experience of the blacking factory. His father, however, rescued him from that fate and in 1824 to 1827 he attended school in London. His brief stay at the blacking factory haunted him all his life, but the dark secret became a source of both creative energy and of the preoccupation with alienation and struggle which emerge throughout his work. Pip's desire to become a respectable gentleman stems from Dickens' own experience, having come from humble beginnings. Dickens wrote 'Great Expectations' in 1860. The last half of the 19th Century was characterised by increasing poverty and social problems, especially in the cities and also by the beginnings of great movements for social reform. There were two common ways to survive poverty: crime or radicalism. Dickens used his novels to highlight the plight of the poor. He was also active himself in campaigning against social injustice and inequality. For example, in 1847 he helped Miss Burdett Coutts to set up and later to run a 'Home for Homeless Women'. Crime, guilt and punishment were common themes of Dickens' novels, along with poverty ... ... middle of paper ... ...nstant which shows Dickens' great skill as a writer. Throughout Dickens' novels his careful choice of names indicates the characters well - Pip, a small sweet name for a small sweet boy; Magwitch - is he a witch? Or evil? In the first chapter he shows amazing descriptive skill, for example when referring to the cold, wilderness of the marshes. In chapter eight he manages to create huge sympathy for a character then take it away a few lines later. This shows his careful control over the reader's emotion. He also shows great skill when in chapter twenty five he successfully achieves comedy while creating sympathy for a character. By far Dickens' biggest achievement, which is sometimes lost in more modern literature, is his talent for telling a gripping and enthralling tale while highlighting the social issues of the day.
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