Chapter 39 of Great Expectations

Chapter 39 of Great Expectations

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Why is chapter 39 of Great Expectations a key chapter and how does
Dickens convey its importance and drama to the reader?

Chapter 39 is a pivotal chapter in the novel because Pip finally finds
out who his benefactor is and how his feelings are portrayed through
the language Dickens used. I will also explain in this essay how
Dickens has conveyed to the reader.

In the beginning of the chapter the reader is reminded of the age Pip
is ‘I was three and twenty years of age.’ This is reminding the reader
that many years had passed and that Pip had nothing to ‘enlighten’ him
on his expectations. He has also left ‘Barnard’s Inn more than a year,
and lived in temple’. He hasn’t seen Mr. Pocket for some time now,
which is curious because they were the best of friends. Pip is
‘alone’ and he was ‘dispirited and anxious’ this may be because he
still doesn’t know who is benefactor is that he is all alone now, He
missed his ‘friend’, Dickens has used the effect of weather to have an
effect on Pip’s feelings, ‘it was wretched weather…deep in all the
streets’ this is showing us that a long line of bad weather ‘day after
day’, this has been described as Pip’s ‘…heavy veil’ this is like a
cloak has been put over Pip’s face and he cannot see what lies ahead
of him, This weather effect heightens the reader’s curiosity because
if Pip cannot see what is ahead of him, then where will he end up, and
this adds extra drama because of the same reasons; will this turn out
good? Or will it turn out bad? Dickens attention to detail is
fascinating, ‘So furious had been the gusts…rages of wind’ It is like
the world is revolving around Pip; he is having a miserable time, and
the winds are destroying the city.

Dickens uses a technique that is used in most ‘scary’ settings, Pip
hears the footsteps of the stranger outside his room, he begins to be
paranoid, it’s dark, bad weather, his sister is dead and he is all
alone, then he hears a footstep which makes him jump he fears (as an
imagination) that it is his ‘dead sister’. Dickens creates more
suspense as Pip has remembered that the stair lights are out, so he
will not be able to see who is downstairs, At the point where the
stranger says Pip’s name, everything freezes, for the reader and Pip,
we begin to think who is this man? Who comes out of nowhere and knows
Pip? This creates more tension within the chapter on how the weather,

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Pip’s feelings and his emotions are in contrasts with his fear, and
now, a stranger has come to see Pip.

Dickens makes Pip is reluctant to invite the man into his home because
of the question the stranger asks ‘There’s no one nigh…is there?’
which is created more drama and suspense in this chapter because it
makes the reader wonder why would he want to know who is up there
instead of Pip? The greatest surprise is when we finally find out who
this stranger is…he is Magwitch, the convict who Pip helped long ago.
Magwitch makes a game of who Pip’s benefactor is, ‘how are you
living?’’ I hope you have this well?’ these are only a few questions
he keeps shooting at him. Then it is finally revealed. ; Yes, Pip,
dear boy, I’ve made a gentleman on you!’ This has again froze the
reader; all those thoughts of Miss Havisham being Pip’s benefactor,
Pip tries to find out if anyone else beside Mr. Jaggers was involved,
but ‘why should there be?’ ‘O ESTELLA, ESTALLA’ Dickens’s has played
with Pip’s feelings, making him think that there is something to do
with this, that Estella has now nothing to do with this.

Dickens has decided to make Pip not behave as a 19th century gentleman
should; he keeps interrupting Magwitch while he talks. But what Pip
doesn’t realise is-through all his fear and doubt-that Magwitch came
back from Australia to make all this happen, Magwitch risked his own
life to come back, (It was common for convicts to be sent to Australia
at that time and that they would be hanged of they were to ever
return). Pip also realises that Magwitch’s life is in his own hands
‘where will you put me?’–‘to sleep? Pip is surprised that he asks
this, he doesn’t know what to do he decides to put him in a room to
sleep for the night.

Along with Pip, the reader may feel that Magwitch will harm Pip during
the night, so Dickens has built up to this by making the reader think
that, ‘Magwitch comes unsurprisingly to Pip’s door, and he expects to
sleep here?’ this question may be in the mind of the reader. Dickens
has conveyed that Pip has no faith in ‘Miss Havisham’, that she has
‘no intentions for’ him that they are ‘not designed for’ him. His
desires are nothing but a mere childhood dream. The ‘black veil’ on
Pip’s face must now open up and we will now see what lies ahead of

Dickens has used repletion on the images and sounds in this chapter,
and has also played with Pip’s feelings, which also plays with the
readers feelings, we now what Pip knows, there was no dramatic irony,
this was a surprise for Pip and the reader, which to me is good way of
writing a story, all we knew is what Pip knew. So in conclusion I
believe that Dickens has created the most powerful chapter in Great
Expectations and he has made Pip realise a valuable lesson: that
noting is what it seems, that everything that once was, is lost, and
everything that should have been remembered, was forgotten and that a
dream and turn into a nightmare- into a linear sequence of scares, but
still have an effect on your subconscience.
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