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Expectations and in so doing, draws our attention to some of the major themes that guide the novel?
There is no doubt in my mind that the novel Great Expectations is amongst the greatest novels of all time. It is undoubtedly Dickens best novel and achieves this status through many different aspects, yet the most engaging and memorable characteristic of the novel is most definitely the characters involved within the story. From the dreaded Mrs Joe to the seductive yet heartless Estella every character has its own striking and memorable personality. This is a perfect match with the bildungsroman style of the book as it allows the audience to see these extraordinary characters through the eyes of someone else, in this case Pip. Having these great characters also draws our attention to the major themes that guide the entire novel which is easily the key to the great success of this novel. Throughout the essay I will be exploring the ways in which Dickens uses a variety of styles to perfect the characters in the novel during the opening chapters and how this affects the entire novel. The main characters which have the biggest affect on the play are Magwitch, Mrs Joe and Mr Joe so I shall therefore be analysing each one of these characters and explain their affect on Pip s life. I shall also be explaining the way the social class systems affect the characters and the effect of having Pip as the narrator. Written in the 1860 s Great Expectations was originally published in serial form in the publication All the year round from the 1st of December to August 1861. At the time it would have been much like that of a modern day soap opera except in written form. There are many certain hints in the novel that it may be semi-autobiographical of Dickens himself. For instance at the start of the book it is in the year of 1812 which just happens to be the year of Dickens birth, and that Pip is an orphan, much like Dickens, although his parents were in prison and weren t dead like Pips. However this is commonplace in a lot of Dickens work. Another recurring characteristic of Dickens novels would be how he always demonstrated the problems of the time, such as how he shows the difference in classes in Great Expectations. This was most defiantly a problem of the time as it was written during the time of the industrial revolution which had brought the arrival of a wealthy middle class but also a great amount of poverty amongst the lower class. The reason Dickens brings the real world into his novels is to draw attention to the countries problems and initiate debate. Dickens bases the moral of the story on the unfair class system. However in traditional Dickens style he shies away from offering any solid solution to this problem. There is no doubt that Great Expectations is a very popular novel, so popular it has been adapted for stage and screen 250 times as well as being the theme of episodes in comedy shows such as South Park. A great method of Dickens is to use surroundings to develop certain characters. For instance, within the first scene of the novel we know that Pip is an orphan from the tombstone with his mum and dad s name on as described by Pip. We also know that he has lost 5 brothers who all died at child birth. This is obviously a very sombre start to a story and automatically develops Pips character into almost a loner with no real parents. Dickens does this to not only develop Pip s character, but to also force the reader into sympathising with Pip, which causes the reader to immediately begin to like Pip as a character. This could also be an example of the autobiographical fashion of the novel as although Dickens parents weren t dead, they certainly weren t with him for nearly all of his life.
He is also very uncomfortable in environments outside his home. It also reminds the reader of death when in the graveyard which makes the reader aware of the consequences that may follow if Pip gets on the wrong side of Magwitch. It also reinforces the working class status of Pip as his home is not of a high standard as a middle or upper class family. It also emphasises the threatening aspect of the event. For Mrs Joe the forge is like a prison. is the key word here and that is exactly what Joe is. The misty marshes next to the church not only add to the frightening atmosphere but also make the encounter seem more secluded. Joe and Mrs. on the other hand. he is a simpleton with very little ambition in life. Another key setting in the opening chapters of Great Expectations is Pips home and the forge. This is possibly because Joe has never really experienced life outside the forge. Simple. and had never taken them out in this state of existence . his family and his home are all bundled into a very tight and simple package. Another factor that makes Pips village seem even more distant is how it is situated near dank and misty marshes which tend to be quite lonely places. The reason that Dickens wants Pip s background to be that of a working class to allow the moral of the stor Mrs Joe. Pips home is adjoined to the forge in which Joe works in as he is a blacksmith. It is very smart of Dickens to introduce the lonely and intimidating character of Magwitch in the setting of a lonely eerie churchyard as it fits in with both Magwitch s lonely character as well as his scary and harrowing character. It represents a lot about Pip. It is also shown by how the house is always warm and dry for Joe yet anywhere else always seems to be cold and wet. His life completely revolves around his home. Dickens includes all of these harrowing details of their surroundings to achieve only one goal. In many ways Mrs Joe is somewhat a creation designed specifically for a comic purpose within Pips . and that s to simply make the scene a lot more frightening. is introduced. Once again this idea of living in a secluded village distances Pip from the rest of the world hence reinforcing Pips lonely character. This is a very lower class area for a home to be situated compared to the middle class inner city locations. and that grand places like Satis house are very alien to him and therefore make him uncomfortable. and this comes across through her angry and unhappy behaviour. For example he is very awkward around Satis house and also very out of place when he visits Pip in his house in London later on in the novel. Yet for Joe it seems to be a perfect lifestyle.Dickens also reveals Pips young age by putting across a very immature and imaginative view of his young brothers pre-birth deaths as Pip describes them as being born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets. In many ways the house is Joe. The fact that Pip has visited his parents grave on his own with no other people around him also reinforces this idea that Pip is a bit of loner. It is a much scarier ordeal when based in a churchyard with no one to help rather than in the middle of an average street where there are people to help out. the convict. and no one likes the cold and wet. does not share this easy to please quality within in her character. Dickens emphasises on Mr Joe s simple characteristics to reiterate the lower class family that Pip is part of. Joe. In the exact same setting Magwitch. Once again this fits in with Pips lower class childhood as a blacksmith tends not to be the job of a middle class gentlemen but the job of a man of the lower class. For most people this would be a ridiculous and boring way to live one s life. His work. but with nothing to complain about. It is also mentioned that the village doesn t have many visitors which secludes Pips village even more. He is happy with his life and this comes across from his behaviour and how he never asks for more. For starters their home is situated within a village.
but the course grey outfit he is wearing is also a big give away as a convict s uniform would tend to be grey colour. By making the character more believable it makes the moral of the major theme of the story also become more real which is extremely helpful for Dickens considering that his novel is based on reality. and he looked sideways here and there while he ate. it is said that he would make a chop at any of his visitors. Magwitch is a convict. He was altogether too unsettled in his mind over it. The man took strong. Once again the description of Magwitch is a good example of how Dickens does this. It is now obvious that Magwitch is a convict as only a convict would really have an iron on their leg. it s hard enough being a blacksmiths wife . we just presume it from his appearance.early life. In all of which particulars he was very like the dog. Mr Joe has a very simple and un-ambitious view on life whereas Mrs Joe is grumpy and does not like the lifestyle she has. sharp. every mouthful. This is a great example of how a description of a characters appearance can develop their character as it has only taken one small sentence for the reader to work out that Magwitch is a convict. or to have anybody to dine with him. A fearful man. without making a chop with his jaws at the visitor. or rather snapped up. too soon and too fast. it is fair to say that he shares the ambitious views of Mrs Joe. However the biggest give away is the great iron on his leg . just like the dog. This is unfortunate for Pip as it is clear towards the end of the novel that if Pip had adopted the easy to please attitude of Mr Joe he would have been far better off as at the end of the novel Mr Joe is shown as the real gentleman rather than Pip. Obviously convicts tend to be fearful. In most cases the description of a characters appearance and mannerisms tends to fit in with their personality. all in course grey . He swallowed. Section Two As with any realist novel characters are always described in great detail to both give them a more realistic feel as well as giving the reader a greater understanding of the character as a whole. this suggests that Magwitch doesn t have such a good social status . I thought. We already know this within the first scene. For example. In many ways Mr Joe and Mrs Joe are complete opposites. In fact Dickens is actually describing the whole character of Magwitch but cleverly disguising it in a supposed description of how Magwitch eats. Dickens also develops a character by describing their mannerisms. For instance. Although Pip prefers Mr Joe out of the two. However it is never specified within the first scene that Magwitch is a convict. For example Pip imagines that she washes herself with a nutmeg grater because of how red her skin is and that she leaves pins in the bread that she cuts for him. I now noticed a decided similarity between the dog s way of eating and the man s. as if he thought there was danger in every direction of somebody s coming to take the pie away. when Pip gives Magwitch the food he describes Magwitch as eating like a dog. to appreciate it comfortably. sudden bites. This will emphasise a characters identity and also make the character easier to remember as that identity. For example. It also makes the character more memorable if they are believable. It would be very immature of a reader to think that Dickens is only trying to explain the way Magwitch eats in this paragraph of description. This is so because of how Pip imagines her. Dickens incorporated this evil and unattractive view of Mrs Joe possibly because of her materialistic ambition that the novel is trying to convince us to reject. Pips description of Mrs Joe is not an attractive one and the reader does not warm to the character of Mrs Joe.
This shows how Mrs Joe will use something to get what she wants. In my opinion this is very effective as it allowed me to believe more in this character of Magwitch as his character hadn t been just handed to me on a plate in the form of a boring paragraph of just pure description. which is expected of a convict on the run but it may also be because of his nemesis being around. This also backs up the lonely character of Magwitch. and so he describes in an unattractive way in order to get across her unattractive character. it may also be another reference to his childish manner as children tend to have smooth skin. Not only does the paragraph show his simplistic character but also his friendly and kind character through his smooth face . This is obviously not an attractive description. This is a very paranoid way to behave. as she states she wears the apron too much. and with eyes of such a very undecided blue that they seemed to have somehow got mixed with their own whites. yet not so intellectual. most probably for herself as it is certain that she doesn t want what s best for Pip. It also describes Magwitch as looking around all the time as he eats. Dickens includes this within her description because it is mentioned that Mrs Joe uses the apron to reproach against Joe. For instance the description of his undecided blue eyes shows an almost childish character as his eyes cannot make up their own mind (if they had a mind) much like that of a child. not fully grown men. hence suggesting that she works too much. strong and sudden bites. . This can be seen through his description. It also describes Magwitch as taking quick. Dickens does this to emphasise Magwitch s fearful character and aggressive attitude. Joe was a fair man. This would suggest Magwitch as having a very aggressive nature as well as being very strong and intimidating. Although it is made clear from Pip s account that she really has no need to wear the apron all of the time. This is so because Mrs Joe is not a character that Dickens wanted us to warm too. and doesn t reflect a warming character like Mr Joe s description.and very little visitors. Later on in the story she attempts to get Pip into a middle class life. This description of Joe defiantly shows his simple and friendly personality. Another example of how Dickens successfully develops a character through description can be seen through Mr Joe. This is very much the opposite of Mrs Joe s description. The reason Dickens disguises this information is to allow the reader to subconsciously understand Magwitch which adds a realistic edge to his character. This is so because smoothness is a nice feeling and so is Joe. As stated before Mr Joe is a happy and polite man. in this case she is using her apron in order to reproach Joe. with curls of flaxen hair on each side of his smooth face. She is described as having black hair and eyes as well as a prevailing redness of the skin . Another key aspect of Mrs Joe s description would have to be her apron in which she wears most often than not. Dickens must have incorporated this in to emphasise Magwitch s distance from society as he is wary of everyone and everything. Dickens has most defiantly shown his great intellect within literature in this paragraph as he has managed to define Magwitch s entire character within a paragraph of description which is technically only describing the way Magwitch eats. Therefore the description of her constantly wearing an apron for no reason is an early insight into her selfish antics later on in the story. It also allows an easy comparison to be made between Magwitch and a dog which helps make Magwitch s character a lot easier to remember.
He does this to develop a character even more and to suggest there social class standing. Making Joe more childlike emphasises his innocence in the world and shows that he is happy with his simple life. sir . It immediately becomes apparent that Pip is very polite from his encounter with Magwitch as even though Magwitch is threatening Pip and being physically harsh Pip remains polite. If you would kindly please to let me keep upright. The fact that he doesn t pronounce the words correctly suggests that Magwitch is not of middle or upper class and certainly not a gentleman which fits in with his convict lifestyle. or I ll cut your throat. Not only does this immediately make the reader warm to him it also fits in with his great friendship with Pip as he makes the reader see Joe as almost the same age as Pip. which can be seen from Pip constantly addressing Magwitch as sir. much like a child. Another example of the use of accents and dialogues comes in the form of Mr Joe Gargery.Section three Throughout Great expectations Dickens uses a variety of accents and dialogues.supposin' you're kindly let to live. Joe is very much a simpleton as described earlier. For instance. This makes the ordeal a lot more frightening as a person of a much more sophisticated accent would not be as fearprovoking. O! Don t cut my throat. such as when he asks Pip for wittles . and sir. This is a lower class word for food which would not be used by any man of a higher class hence reinforcing the convicted threatening and lower class character of Magwitch. pint out the place and who d'ye live with -. Although Pip is of the same social standing of his lower class surroundings he remains to speak in a polite and almost educated manner. and perhaps I could attend more. . which I han't made up my mind about? are but two examples of his accent. It also builds on this idea of Pip being distant from everyone and having no real purpose in life at this point in his life. It s like the difference between a cat purring and a cat hissing the cat hissing shows a much higher state of danger and viciousness. perhaps I shouldn't be sick. intimidating character Keep still. His dialogue is also of a lower class. This scene also develops the character of Magwitch as a ruthless. Magwitch has a very distinct accent and dialogue. This suggest that Pip is different from his surroundings and lower class family and almost shows that he is destined to become a gentleman at this early stage of the novel. This brings me on to Pips accent and dialogue. This is shown in his very childlike and uneducated accent there s another conwict off . you little devil. It is also very polite of Pip to do everything the convict asks without cursing or questioning.
who limped. One final detail we learn from this scene is that Magwitch is a Christian as he makes Pip swear on the lord say Lord Strike you dead if you don t! This shows that Magwitch must have a conscience to be worried about unfulfilling a promise to God. and torn by briars. Pip and Magwitch are also an example of gothic doubling as both Pip and Magwitch are rather alike in many ways such as they both have no real family or friends. For instance he calls his mum also Georgina because his only experience of his mother is from the tombstone. it is clear that Pip makes some wrong decisions in his life. it also adds a sense of realism. which also increases a sense of realism. and smothered in mud. Pips narrating also helps the reader to sympathise with Pip. The way he describes Magwitch is very fast paced and child-like. Not only does it allow the reader to feel more involved. and glared and growled. . and rather brilliantly manages to give the illusion that the readers heart is pumping fast and makes the reader feel like Pip. and lamed by stones. Dickens adds a great effect to the narrating within the first chapter. Dickens also manages to add a slight hint of comedy based around Pip s bad understanding of his mum and dad. almost as if Pip is real and is just sat with you telling you about his past. He uses a split first person narrator of the childhood and adult Pip. The first encounter with Magwitch helps the reader see the personalities of both young Pip and of Magwitch. however the reader refuses to dislike pip purely because he is the narrator and as humans we tend to be on the same side as the story teller. Not only does this describe a lot about Magwitch s appearance but also allows the reader to feel the real sense of urgency that Pip is feeling. they are both very lonely. and stung by nettles. and cut by flints. and shivered. The use of Pip as the narrator also helps the reader interpret the events throughout the novel. It is narrated by the childhood Pip. Its quick and fast pace is could represent the heart rate of Pip at that time. A man who had been soaked in water. which would link in with the almost autobiographical sense of the novel based around Dickens s past. This can be seen in the first encounter with Magwitch. This obviously isn t her name but by putting this in it adds a comical edge to Pip s upsetting state. and at times can be quite mean. such as when he refuses Mr Joe s hospitality. Although this scene is a very sombre and frightening scene. This is the key in capturing the true intimidating aura of Magwitch.A great aspect of Great Expectations is the narrating.