Both Pip in Charles Dickens Great Expectations and Jem and Scout in
Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird have deep fears in early
childhood. How do the authors create these fears and vulnerabilities?
Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' and Harper Lee's 'To Kill a
Mockingbird' are two very different books. 'Great Expectations' tells
the story of a young boy growing up in Kent at the beginning of the
19th century, and 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' centres around two children
growing up in America in the 1930s. However, despite the obvious
differences in the infant characters and the cultures in which they
live, all of the children have deep fears, and both authors use
devices to give ...view middle of the document...
There is a similarity in the characters of Pip, Jem and Scout is that
none of them have the traditional maternal figure. Pip is brought up
'by hand', by his abusive sister as his mother is dead. The Finch
children are brought up by their black domestic helper Calpurnia, who
Scout describes as being made up of 'angles' and possessing hands 'as
wide as bed-slats but twice as hard'.
Dickens builds up much pathos around the way in which Pip behaves. He
is incessantly polite, irrespective of the circumstances that he is
in. For example when he is confronted by a convict in the churchyard,
he constantly refers to him as 'Sir' and when leaving says 'Goo-good
night, Sir'. Although Pip is stuttering and obviously inwardly
terrified he continues to be polite. This adds great pathos to the
story, but also adds a level of humour, for which Dickens is well
There is also a pathos surrounding Jem and Scout. They are two small
children growing up in a world that is difficult to understand, their
mother is dead, and their family is hated by many sectors of the
community. Atticus is attempting to bring them up as respectable
members of the society, but the two children do not understand his
aspirations for them. Jem and Scout act in a way in which they hope
they will please Atticus, but also act as children; showing their real
human emotions and becoming angry when their father is insulted.
There is no doubt that Dickens created the infant Pip as a 'victim.'
Almost every other character insults or physically hurts Pip. One of
the persecutors is Pip's own sister, known as 'Mrs. Joe'. She resents
having to look after Pip, and often beats him with 'a wax ended piece
of cane' euphemistically referred to as 'the Tickler.'
Another of Pips persecutors is Joe's uncle, known to all as Uncle,
Pumblechook, who takes every possible opportunity to show his
dominance over Pip. One of the most obvious is at the Christmas meal,
when Uncle Pumblechook calls Pip 'a swine' and the entire meal becomes
a punishment for Pip.
The lives of Atticus children are often dominated by the irrational
fear of one group of characters, the Radleys. The Radley family are
the only family which are not a real part of Maycomb's community, and
rumours and legends have built up around the house and the family,
notably the mysterious Arthur Radley, commonly known as 'Boo'. Scout
describes Boo as a 'malevolent phantom', he intrigues the children
with his solitary existence, as they do not understand how anybody
could live without the community around them.
One of the most haunting characters in Great Expectations is 'Miss
Havisham', a woman who was jilted on her wedding day, and has stopped
her life on the day, leaving everything exactly as it was. She invites
Pip to her home, and orders him to play with Estella, her adopted
daughter, and constantly insults him and makes him feel uncomfortable.
Miss Havisham and Estella both attempt to...