How Effective is the Opening Chapter in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations?

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How effective is the opening chapter in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations? Charles Dickens was one of the outstanding writers of the 19th century. He has written many well-known books such as 'The Pickwick Papers', 'David Copperfield' and 'Our Mutual Friend'. He had an unsettled childhood as his father had money problems and he was often moving from town to town. His writing could be interpreted as a reflection on his own life, as his intricate and elaborate story lines usually revolve around themes of poverty and the oppression of children by adults. Education was a big part of Dickens' life. He loved to read and write and always believed in his ambition that one day he would become a journalist. Before his ambition was realised Dickens' worked for a magazine, where his first work was published. As his stories were printed in instalments Dickens' needed a way to make his audience buy the next part of his stories. To do this Dickens' would add to the story a new character or twist to the plot, and each instalment would contain a varied mix of drama and comedy. He kept interest alive in his stories by cleverly alternating and overlapping plots, and he ended each instalment with a mystery or detection element, to keep the reader engaged and wanting more. In each of Dickens stories he usually introduces a strong male lead character, who has a dark and insensitive personality which therefore turns them into lonely and sinister souls. Examples of such characters include Ebenezer Scrooge from 'A Christmas Carol' who is a bitter, hard and unsympathetic businessman with no cares for anyone but himself and Mr Creakle the ignorant and ferocious schoolteacher in 'David Coppefield'. With knowledge of these characters that take lead roles in Dickens' books we can induce that a similar character will be included in 'Great Expectations'. The title 'Great Expectations' could be interpreted in several forms. Firstly there are the expectations of the characters. In the first chapter we are introduced to Pip, who becomes the hero of the story and Magwitch, an escaped convict. We are interested to know whether Pip or Magwitch have great expectations for themselves, and whether they fulfil them. Does Pip have expectations for himself? Will these change after his meeting with Magwitch? There are also the expectations of the reader. The story forms it's own plot inside the readers head of what they expect to happen to the characters, and the reader wants to know whether these expectations will become truth or whether they change in some way. The scene is set with exciting imagery of the marshland, which is reflected in the ways of Magwitch.
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