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

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During his early childhood Charles Dickens travelled Great Britain due to his father’s job. H lived in mainly coastal towns as his father was a naval clerk and therefore became familiar with the scenes reflected in Great Expectations. Dickens has used memorable scenes and characters from his childhood; the marshes representing one of his youth time homes and many of the characters being written in the reflections of family members. Great Expectations seems to have been produced using the memories of Dickens’ life. When he was younger his whole family was imprisoned for debt except for Charles; he was old enough to get a job in a blacking factory. Pip may be an image of Dickens because he too was left by his family as they all passed away when he was very young. Pip’s family was also large just like Dickens’: there were eight children in Dickens’ family and seven in Pip’s. If anybody wanted a depiction of what Dickens’ life was like then they may well read this novel as it represents what life was like living in Dickens’ time so much better than facts and figures would. The novel resembles Dickens’ life in so many more ways as well. From background reading I know that Mrs Joe Gargery was written in the image of Dickens’ mother. Mrs Gargery has had to be a mother figure for Pip since he was a young boy. She appears strict and quite harsh on Pip. From the beginning, Pip appears to be childlike. He is still calling himself “Pip” which is all that his “infant tongue could make of” his two names Phillip Pirrip. This makes Pip appear naïve or simple because he hasn’t yet grown up to be called his proper name of Phillip. The naivety of Pip seems to be a running theme through this extract. The way he determined the characters of his deceased parents and siblings from their tombstones is immature. The reasons for this may be because Pip had no-one around his age to grow up with and so has been kept as a child by the over-powering presence of his sister and the playful antics of his brother-in-law. Soon sympathy for Pip develops as he seems helpless. He has gone to visit his parents, maybe in the hope to feel close to them, yet he is left alone and feels isolated. Pips isolation and vulnerability is revealed when he describes himself as “bundle of shivers”. These three words produce powerful emotions, for me, because I would associate the... ... middle of paper ... ...Pips mind for the rest of his life. There are plenty of adjectives and verbs used to describe the marshes such as “baron”. This creates a feeling that the marshes are derelict. These ideas may create a feeling of nervousness because surely there would be at least one person out there, somewhere. Its as though something terrible is going to happen and everyone has shied away from it, except Pip. He has been left alone in this “savage lair” alone. The marshes appear vicious and no place for a child so why did Dickens decide to put him here on his own? What is going to happen to him? There are other things which make it seem dangerous. The sky has become “angry red lines”. This is a harsh colour, the colour of hell. What is going to happen that may represent the need for the colours of such a hostile, unforgiving place? All these factors may make readers want to persist with the prose because they may feel the need to find out what is going to happen to Pip that all the above setting images suggest. They made provide ideas to explain why Dickens chose to create the powerful images that he did.
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