Chapter one of the novel Great Expectations opens in a bleak and
overgrown churchyard on the eerie marsh country. Here we are
introduced to Pip, as a young and naïve boy, and we discover he is
also an orphan, who lives with sister and her husband the blacksmith,
in a small village a mile or more from the church.
Whilst Pip is in the churchyard, he meets an escaped convict,
Magwitch, whom Pip gives food to, and this encounter remains poignant
in both their lives, as Pip goes on to receive the opportunity to
become a gentleman, from a mysterious benefactor, and he abandons his
friends and family for his “Great Expectations” and his London
The desolate choice of setting and location for the start of the novel
are relevant to Pip’s unhappy childhood. Dickens uses negative
descriptions such as “bleak place overgrown with nettles” to create a
vivid and miserable image in the readers mind. At once it becomes
obvious that Pip’s tale is not going to be a joyful or pleasant one-
more the reverse, as his surroundings are described with more
depressing phrases including “dark flat wilderness”, to describe the
marshes and land beyond the churchyard, and “distant savage lair”, to
emphasise the fierceness of the sea. We get the impression of an
isolated, wild and barren marshland, and feel sorry for the poor young
boy let out with nobody with him.
We are told that Pip never saw his father or his mother, and told also
that he childishly derived what they may have looked like from the
appearance of their tombstones. Pip evidently felt alone and deserted
at this time, as we see him in the churchyard visiting his parent's
graves, and looking at the “five little stone...
... middle of paper ...
...gers that finish off each chapter.
The fact that Magwitch is introduced to Pip in the first chapter is
appealing for the reader, as this creates curiosity in wanting to know
what is going to happen to Pip, and what is to become of Magwitch. The
reader is persuaded to read on to find out also whether Pip obeys
Magwitch, and how Pip completes his task. Also, because we feel sorry
for the poor boy, we are curious to find out the outcome of his life
and whether it gets any better.
Overall, Chapter one of the novel Great Expectations provides us with
sufficient information about Pip to know that he is not going to grow
up in a loving and caring environment, as we find out that he is an
orphan, who lives with his sister and her husband, in a strict and
unloving household, and is let out alone in a deserted churchyard
visiting his parents graves one evening.
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