Great Expectations 6 Essay

3147 words - 13 pages

How does Charles Dickens make the characters in his novel, Great Expectations, memorable?

Great Expectations the novel by Charles Dickens, follows a young orphaned boy’s journey through life. The little orphan Pip, has an insignificant existence, just another common labouring boy, however a twist occurs with the discovery of a new fortune from a mysterious source and he becomes a boy of ‘great expectations’. The novel is set in England in the 1800’s it is made clear that the novel is set in this period as Pip states as a young boy, referring to his parents ‘their time was long before the days of photographs’. This suggests that the novel is set roughly in the 1840’s. Later, when Pip has ...view middle of the document...

Dickens also makes us grow fond of Pip by creating sympathy for him. The reader feels sorry for him and immediately feels close to him and wants him to do well. We can see his vulnerability in the first chapter by the way he reacts to Magwitch; he is terrified ‘ “O! Don’t cut my throat sir”, I pleaded in terror, “pray don’t do it sir”’. It is clear that the reader would also develop a liking for Pip because he is polite and humble, we can see from this quote and throughout Chapter 1, during which, he calls Magwitch, a terrifying convict, sir. The name Pip suggests small, like a small seed, vulnerable, but with potential, just like Pip, who has ‘Great Expectations’. Also the way that Pip struggles to pronounce his name ‘Philip Pirrip’ shows him to be small and vulnerable, and creates more sympathy for the character. Dickens named his main character carefully, because names of characters can have a big impact on the reader. He does this in his other novels also, take for example Mr Bumble from Oliver twist, a greedy, clumsy character. In addiction; the fact that Pip is an orphan relates to the readers at the time, because many children were orphans in the 1800’s and the many were treated cruelly and unjustly. It is the fact that Pip is an orphan (this even more realistic for the time) that creates even more sympathy to be felt by the Victorian reader. Dickens at the time wanted to reform society through the medium of his novels (he was influenced to do this because of feelings from his childhood- his father was imprisoned and he was forced to work in a shoe blackening factory) he uses his storytelling power to convey a powerful message, almost like a fable. He uses Great Expectations to question the structure of Victorian society. From the beginning of the novel, Pip is taken into our hearts, and therefore he remains in our hearts and minds. The atmosphere that Dickens surrounds Pip with adds to his overall character enormously. The impressively constructed and frightening environment that he is surrounded by, adds to the character as it creates a link between an environment and a character, for example the marshes remind us of him. The marshes are an effective backdrop for Pip; they are quite eerie and add to the atmosphere and therefore the character. For example the way that the marshes are described: ‘The marshes were just a long black horizontal line then.... and the Sky was just a row of long angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed’ Dickens personifies the environment ‘angry red lines’ to add extra effect and really bring Pips background a deeper effect, the frightening ethos that is created helps show how Pip is really feeling. The use of powerful colours creates an even more powerful atmosphere, black is associated with darkness and death, and red is associated with anger and passion, these connotations help to build up the environment that Pip is in. Dickens creates this pathetic fallacy so the reader...

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