Saturday, November 9, 2019

Great Expectations Essay

How does Charles Dickens introduce his characters, setting and themes at the beginning of his novel, Great Expectations? The world that Charles Dickens creates at the beginning of his novel Great Expectations is one of isolation, loneliness and sorrow. This is because he portrays the world in this novel through Pip, whose childhood is spent in loneliness because he was deprived of his parentage and the comfort of his siblings at an early age. His sister Mrs Joe Gargery brings him up and is extremely aggressive and abusive towards him. She pushes him to the extent that he isolates himself from the world, and spends part of his childhood grieving over the death of his parents in the graveyard. The atmosphere at the beginning is shown as being really distant and sorrowful, when describing the atmosphere where Pip is first introduced as, â€Å"the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry was Pip.† Dickens has chosen to use a variety of linguistic devices to help the reader visualise what the landscape looks like. For example he uses a series of adjectives to describe Pip’s immediate surroundings: ‘Dark, flat wilderness.’ In particular he uses metaphors to compare the different aspects of the environment; â€Å"the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea.† This presents the sea in such a way that the readers are given the impression that the sea is aggressive and hostile. This relates back to the way Pip’s sister behaves towards him, always aggressive towards Pip and takes every opportunity to abuse him both mentally and physically. â€Å"Bleak place overgrown with nettles.† This describes Pip’s surroundings as being overcrowded with nettles. The link that is significant between the nettles and Pip, is that the place is hazardous seeing that the nettles often sting and hurt when one comes into contact with them, signifying pain and distress. This relates to how the convict (later known as Abel Magwitch) treats Pip, when he comes in to contact with him at the graveyard. He handles Pip in an intimidating and aggressive way; he is very insulting to him partially because he wants Pip to help him. The picture that Dickens creates of Magwitch, contrasts with the church, especially because the church is a religious symbol where you can seek sanctuary from the rest of the world and its problems. â€Å"The river wound, twenty miles of the sea.† This gives us the impression that the river is alive and is unwinding. Also the image of the long river comes in to mind. â€Å"The marshes were just a long black horizontal line then.† A marsh is a great expanse of wetland, mostly useless because you can’t build anything on it. â€Å"The river was just another horizontal line, not nearly so broad nor yet so black; and the sky was just a row of long angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed.† This represents the environments as being a place of isolation, deserted because of a loss of inhabitants. People would not normally want to be in such an area. In the beginning of the novel, it reveals that Pip is found at this place. He is lonely and secluded from everyone, trying to find support and refuge amongst the dead; some of them being his parents and his brothers. The adjective in this quote shows how the graveyard has a livid atmosphere, generally to signify the connection between the dead and the unfortunate circumstances that they died in. The character of Pip in Great Expectations is portrayed as being very tolerant and silent when compared to the rest of the characters in his surroundings. He is always very diminutive when confronted by other people. Throughout the novel he is seen as being serene and distinctive, possibly because of his parentage and his social background. â€Å"I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them.† Pip had not seen his parents since he was born, as both of them had been deceased when Pip had been very small; however he was brought up by his only living relative; his sister. â€Å"My sister – Mrs. Joe Gargery, who married the blacksmith.† As Pip had never experienced the love and care of his parents he used to spend most of his time in the graveyard, trying to comfort himself with the presence of his family. â€Å"The shape of the letters on my father’s, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, â€Å"Also Georgiana Wife of the Above,† I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly.† Although Pip didn’t know how his parents appeared, he tried to change that by observing their graves stones to visualize what they looked like. The isolation that is felt at the beginning is apparent in the fact that he tries to imagine what his parents looked like from the shape of the letters on their tombstones. Pip’s brothers also died at a young age, which deprives Pip of having any companions to play or spend his time with. â€Å"Of five little brothers of mine – who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle.† This leaves Pip being more isolated and alone than he would have been if they had been alive. The only thing that he knew about his brothers was their names; â€Å"Alexander, Bartholomew, Abraham, Tobias, and Roger, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard†¦Ã¢â‚¬  The dark flat wilderness reflects the emotional feelings of Pip and the harshness of the atmosphere. This is important because it explains his isolation and surroundings, and how he seeks shelter in this dark deserted environment. The phrase â€Å"memorable raw afternoon,† directly relates to how cold, uncomfortable, rough and painful life is for Pip. There is also some importance in this extract taken from the novel. â€Å"The low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea;† These phrases describe the surroundings that Pip grew up in. The metaphors in this are given a lot of importance as they relate to the severity and loneliness in Pip’s life. The role of Abel Magwitch in the opening of the novel is considerable, although we do not see much of him other than in the opening and final passages, he is arguably one of the most influential characters in Pip’s life. Charles Dickens depicts Magwitch as extremely aggressive and impertinent; this presents him as a fearful and a cautious man. â€Å"A fearful man, all in course grey, with a great iron on his leg.† This is a really menacing image of him, as when he threatens Pip for food and drink Pip immediately responds to him by agreeing to steal the food. There have been many incidents in the opening extracts of the novel where Pip has been threatened by the convict. â€Å"Keep still you little devil or I’ll cut your throat.† This gives the audience the impression that Magwitch is violent and aggressive. He treats Pip with the same violence and aggression when he asks Pip to get things for him, not at all considering how old or small Pip is. This shows us how Pip is abused and insulted by Magwitch, for his own personal gain. â€Å"You get me a file.† He tilted me again. â€Å"And you get me wittles.† He tilted me again. â€Å"You bring ’em both to me.† He tilted me again. â€Å"Or I’ll have your heart and liver out.† He tilted me again.† The way Magwitch speaks is so different to the Standard English that Pip uses, this is because he uses colloquial language. This citation also proves that Magwitch is selfish and passionate, as he is so desperate to get what he desires that he will do anything to make sure he gets it, no matter how much turmoil and trouble it could cause. Furthermore, it shows that he is very dangerous and the influence he has over Pip can lead Pip to carry out a criminal act. The instant image that is created of Magwitch is of danger and neglect, because of all the exploitation and torment that he furnishes on Pip. â€Å"A fearful man, (†¦). A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head†¦ who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin.† You can tell that that Pip is petrified of Magwitch due to his appearance and the way he conducts himself. This has an immense amount of impact on Pip as he still has nightmares regarding the convict, which frightens him. However this image of Magwitch is shown in a different light as we advance in to the novel. Pip is courteous and kind to him, as a result he decides to make Pip a ‘gentleman of great expectations.’ It is possible that because of the pain that was inflicted on to him in his past, he treats Pip in that way. Nevertheless, when Pip is being questioned about the theft of the food, Magwitch takes the blame on to himself, it is a possibility that he felt guilty about all the pain he caused Pip and also because Pip had been prepared to do so much for him. Another reason for Magwitch to make Pip a ‘gentleman of great expectations’- is because, although he was intimidating and traumatizing to Pip, Pip showed lots of respect and politeness towards him, in addition to bringing him what he requested. â€Å"Yes sir.† This shows that even though he is being physically abused, he is being respectful; this may be because Pip is vulnerable and is in a sense of helplessness and danger. Abel Magwitch becomes Pip benefactor as he perceives Pip as being trustworthy and well mannered. It is shown later on in the text that Magwitch had a daughter. Therefore bearing in mind that Pip had lost his parents at an early age, Magwitch felt concerned about Pip and sought to replace the parental love that Pip was deprived. The theme of abuse is also present through out a variety of chapters. There’ve been many incidents in this novel in which Pip has suffered from abusive behaviour, physically and mentally, from numerous characters. Those of which includes; Pip’s sister – Mrs Joe Gargery, Estella and Ms Havisham. The type of abusive behaviour that he endures from his sister is revealed during the opening scenes of the novel. His sister is revealed as being very stern and intolerant towards Pip. She beats him severely and also attacks his mental state of mind. Her way of speaking to him is really harsh and her actions provide the audience with the assumption that Mrs Joe Gargery loathes Pip. â€Å"Knowing her to have a hard and heavy hand, and to be much in the habit of laying it upon her husband as well as upon me.† This implies that she used to hit Pip. The way that his sister used to punish him, would be unacceptable in today’s society as it would be seen as child abuse. â€Å"And what’s worse, she’s got ‘tickler’ with her.† What is meant by the term tickler is that it is â€Å"a wax-ended piece of cane, worn smooth by collision with my tickled frame.† Mrs Joe Gargery used canes to beat Pip. The audience can imagine how much pain must have been inflicted on to Pip at such a young age. Not only does she use canes to beat Pip she also hits him with her hand. â€Å"She concluded by throwing me.† In the opening passage Mrs Joe Gargery also insults Pip and attacks his mental state of mind by making him feel unwelcome and unwanted. â€Å"If it warn’t for me you’d have been to the churchyard long ago, and stayed there.† She keeps reminding Pip that she is the only person left for him, and if it wasn’t for her he would have been abandoned and left to die. â€Å"It’s bad enough to be a blacksmith’s wife (and him a Gargery) without being your mother.† This quote is also saying that Mrs Joe Gargery has unwillingly had to look after him and replace his mother, and she is to some extent ashamed and unhappy of being Joe the blacksmiths wife and their relationship together is not what it should be of a loving husband and wife. The novel illustrates that Pip also receives abuse and neglect from Ms Havisham and Estella together. Although they may not be as violent as Pip’s sister, they do mentally abuse him and make him feel extremely small and neglected. â€Å"Sometimes, she would coldly tolerate me; sometimes, she would condescend to me; sometimes, she would be quite familiar with me; sometimes, she would tell me energetically that she hated me.† This shows that Estella enjoys playing with Pips feelings and thrives on playing with his heart and emotions. Estella has acknowledged that Pip has taken a liking to her and she entertains herself when Pip tries to engage with her. Ms Havisham builds up the love in Pip’s heart for Estella. She fuels the fire in which Pip burns for Estella. â€Å"Does she grow prettier and prettier, Pip?† She is also seen to have a lot of influence over Estella and it seems that it is under her directives that Estella strives to break Pip’s heart. â€Å"Miss Havisham would embrace her with lavish fondness, murmuring something in her ear [that sounded like] â€Å"Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!† Ms Havisham has brought up Estella and it is under her instruction that Estella is directed to play with his emotions and gradually break Pip’s heart. The reason that Dickens had to write this story was that it reflected some of his own experiences; he presented Great expectations in such a way that some of it included some aspects of his own autobiography. â€Å"Great Expectations does draw on my own experiences. Like Pip, I grew up in the marshy country around Chatham and Rochester; like him I raised myself up in status in society. Pip discovers his secret benefactor, a kind of father to the orphan boy, is actually a criminal; my own father spent time in prison for debt.† In addition to this, there were many events in his life that had an immense impact on him as a writer. â€Å"The greatest was my experience as a young boy when I was taken from school and sent to do low and demeaning work in a Blacking Factory, pasting labels onto bottles of boot-blacking. I felt miserable and abandoned, and even at my most successful as an adult the horror of that time returned to me. It gave me a peculiar accuracy and empathy for childhood and the children’s point of view; and for the downtrodden and abandoned in general.† The relation that this states between Charles Dickens and Great Expectations is that in some stage in his life he felt abandoned and isolated. This being the reason that Dickens had empathy for children and had experienced as a child on what their feelings and thoughts were. My personal view of Great Expectations and why it is still such an important book is it reflects the organization of today’s society and why there is such a huge status gap between the rich and the poor. It also relates to how Pip has to struggle in life as a child, and how much torment and abuse he has to face all through his life. This reflects the life of many children today who face abuse and neglect from their families and relatives, or that when a child is kidnapped, they are physically and mentally harmed whilst being abandoned, away from the rest of the world alone and isolated My reaction to this novel was that it was extremely emotional and had a powerful story to it, which had the readers engaged in every moment of the novel. I found that the story which was based on Pip had a huge impact on me, and I got involved and anxious to know what happened next. The emotions and the way that Pip was treated, had been emphasised in the novel to a great extent, so that the audience felt truly apprehensive and sympathetic towards Pip. I think that this novel has been very successful in attaining the support of the audience. Charles Dickens’s novel Great Expectations represents the heart breaking accounts and feelings of many unfortunate children. All the more reason for the work of Charles Dickens to be appreciated and praised through out society.

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