Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Opening Lines in Dickens' Great Expectations

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How effective are the opening of ‘Great Expectations.’ Opening Chapter The novel, Great Expectations by Charles Dickens was written between December 1860 and August 1861, and was published in instalments in a magazine. Charles Dickens was known as a ‘social reformer’ and many of his novels reflect on poverty, justice and punishment in novels such as Oliver Twist, Nicholas Nickleby and Great Expectations. Charles Dickens was also concerned about prison systems and he campaigned long and hard against public executions, using his fame to bring the horrors of the situation to light. The first chapter of Great Expectations establishes important information in terms of character, action, and the plot which aims to entice the reader to read on. Charles Dickens used a lot of suspense in the novel, in addition he made each of the instalments end with a cliff-hanger to persuade readers to buy the next issue, which would definitely gives the reader a purpose for buying the following part of Great Expectations. Great Expectations can be also considered semi-autobiographical of Charles Dickens as it is based on his own experience of life and people. The novel is written in the style of a bildungsroman.* The first chapter of Great Expectations introduces us to the young protagonist Philip Pirrip, who was known as Pip because he could not pronounce his full name ‘I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.’ Pip who is about seven at the opening of the novel also serves as the story’s narrator looking back on his own story as an adult. With this two-level approach, Charles Dickens leads the reader though Pip’s life in childhood with the immediacy and surprise of a young narrator while at the same time guiding as an omnipotent narrat... ... middle of paper ... ...l systems was like then- how prisoners were punished. There is archaic language which is not used now. Such as, “gibbets” or “Lord, strike you dead.” The opening chapter contains a balanced sense of the frightening atmosphere. As Magwitch threatens to kill Pip, by lying about the ‘young man,’ he over exaggerates. For the reader, it seems humorous and, therefore it lightens up the tension and relieves the reader. I feel that it is an effective opening for the novel and it would persuade me to read on because it contains an exciting use of the cliff-hanger – we do not know whether Pip will bring the needs of the convict or not, or whether the young man will hunt for young Pip and kill him. Dickens also uses very descriptive language to capture the scene and the feelings of the characters which makes the reader feel personally involved in the events of the novel.

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