Charles Dickens was a famous writer of suspense stories. He was born at Portsmouth on the 7th February 1812. Charles was the second of eight children of John Dickens. Dickens lived in Victorian times and the sort of things that he writes about in his stories are probably from his era and the everyday lives of Victorian people. For example in the Signalman there are trains, which were new in Victorian times and an easier way of transport. They are also a much faster way of travelling from one place to another. The Victorian era was also a time when convicts were deported to Australia on prison ships.
Charles Dickens was not particularly rich as his dad was arrested for debts and he must have known what a hard life was because he writes about it in so much detail. I think when Charles Wrote Great Expectations he was trying to emphasise the misfortunate children that lived in his time. Dickens is famous for suspense his suspense writing techniques. Suspense is a state of uncertainty while awaiting news for example waiting for something to happen but you don’t know what. One of the ways Dickens creates Suspense is by luring the reader into an unknown atmosphere.
Here are some examples in the first chapter of Great Expectations: In the first chapter of Great Expectations a boy called Pip is in a churchyard visiting the graves of his mother, father and five younger brothers. Dickens creates suspense by luring us into an unknown atmosphere. He starts describing the area around Pip in detail. Dickens gives us the impression that Pip has either not been here in a long time or hasn’t been here before because of the way the area around pip is described.
It is like pip is figuring out what is around the Churchyard for himself ‘and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the Church yard, intersected with dykes and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it was the marshes and that the low leaden line beyond was the river’. As the description goes on about Pip surroundings they become more scary and worse. ‘ the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea’, ‘ the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip’. After Dickens has described this area around Pip and lured us into an unknown atmosphere of what is going to happen next a voice from someone shouts out to him ‘Hold your noise!
‘ Pip is obviously scared and when a terrible voice shouts this to him it startles him. The way that Dickens describes the voice makes us think how pip must have been scared, a little boy with a horrible voice shouting orders at him ” ‘ Hold your noise! ‘ cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from the graves at the side of the church porch. ” The first few sentences that the person who is shouting at pip are not very nice and we can imagine how tense and scared Pip must have been feeling, it can’t be very nice when someone threatens to cut your throat. ‘ Keep still, you little devil, or I’ll cut your throat!
‘ Dickens is creating Suspense as he is describing something that is happening but as he continues we gradually find out more. This is a good technique to make the reader continue reading, as they want to find out what is going to happen next. The description of the man is quite frightening and is everything and more that we could think it might be, or the sort of image that would represent a man bellowing these commands at poor Pip. ‘A fearful man, all in course grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head.
A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered when he seized me by the chin. ‘ This is a very descriptive piece of text and bring a very good visual image of what the person looks like and this is also an important factor in the way Dickens creates Suspense ‘Visual images’ These are always important when building up Suspense as it makes the reader more able to visualise what is happening and/or going to happen.
It makes us see what is being described and think of all the possibilities of what could happen next. Dickens describes Pip and The Convict in the Churchyard and the Convict is asking Pip what his name is and where he lives. The Convict is obviously hungry because when he tips Pip upside down and a piece of bread falls out Dickens describes the way in which pip saw him eating ‘ he ate the bread ravenously’. You can tell the man was obviously hungry as he made remarks about eating pips cheeks. ‘You young dog,’ said the man, licking his lips, ‘what fat cheeks you ha’ got.
‘ And ‘ Darn me if I couldn’t eat’ em,’ The convict isn’t stupid and we can tell this because when Pip tells him that he lives with his sister Mrs Joe Gargery wife of Joe Gargery the Blacksmith he looks down at the iron on his leg and thinks how he can get rid of the iron. After Pip says this, his actions towards Pip become more threatening. ‘ Now lookee here,’ he said ‘ the question being whether you live.
You know what a file is? ‘ ‘Yes Sir’ ‘ And you know what wittles is’ ‘Yes sir’ After he says this he becomes even more threatening so Pip will do what he wants ‘ You get me a file’ ‘and you get me wittles. ‘ ‘You bring ’em both to me. ‘ ‘ or I’ll have your heart and liver out’ The Convict is clever and we can tell this because he makes out to have someone else with him.
‘A young man’ and he tells pip that the young man is worse than him so that Pip would be very frightened and do what the Convict wants him to do ‘ Now, I ain’t alone, as you may think I am. There is a young man hid with me, in comparison with which I am an angel. That young man hears the words I speak. That young man has a secret way percoolier to himself, of getting a boy, and at his heart and at his liver.
It is in wain for a boy to attempt to hide himself from that young man. A boy may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may tuck himself up, may draw the clothes up over his head, may think himself comfortable and safe, but that young man will softly creep and creep his way to him and tear him open’. After the convict says this we are wondering what he will say next as this piece of writing is very strange. It starts nicely but to scare pip it finishes terribly by the convict saying a young man will tear open a young boy.