Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens

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Essay on Great Expectations (by Charles Dickens) Explore Dickens effective “language” to create “setting” and “character” in the opening chapter of Great Expectations. Dickens opens the theme of death early in the chapter. In the second paragraph he mentions the tombstones of Pips parents, “I gave Pirrip as my fathers family name on the authority of his tombstone”. This informs us that Pip experienced death at an early age. He goes on to describe the churchyard and the land around continuing the themes of death, and general negativity. Pip says that, “My most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening.” The word vivid is used to create the impression that this afternoon sticks out clearly in his memory and that its in contrast to other things that have been forgotten and are less clear in his mind. His use of the phrase “impression of” and the word memorable also show that it has been impressed into in his memory - clearly something important happened. The afternoon is described as raw this suggests cold, wind, winter, bleak sore and no sun. The place Pip is in is a churchyard and Dickens goes on to describe it as bleak and overgrown with nettles. He uses negative language to create a setting of bleak and colourless place as nettles are seen as negative objects. The theme of death arises again at the end of that sentence as it finishes with the words “dead and buried”. Dickens then continues to describe the marshland outside the churchyard as dark and flat implying that it is featureless – no landmarks, bringing back the themes of colourless and negativity. He also utilises the classic sentence formation ... ... middle of paper ... ...me down, and going back to hook himself up again.” This is effective as Pip mixes up the images of the pirate and the convict in his head, and Dickens also uses personification: “as I saw the cattle lifting their heads to gaze after him, I wondered if they thought so too.” Dickens effectively uses the language to show us the idea of the convict and the pirate coming to life mixed up together terrifies Pip until: “But, now I was frightened again and ran home without stopping.” This chapter effectively sets up the events to come by introducing a sense of the colourless and bleak world that Pip inhabits and which is built on in the rest of the book. It also introduces us to the writer’s skill with language when he describes the place and characters, showing his skill at detailed descriptions and demonstrating how effectively he uses the language.

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