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    Charles Dickens Great Expectations Essay

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    Great Expectations, written by Charles Dickens is the novel I have been reading and analysing. Charles Dickens has used his childhood memories for this story but this book also shows the effects of society. Pip, fully named Philip Pirrip, is the protagonist of the story. The novel takes us through Pips life, from being ‘a common labouring boy’ to ‘a gentleman’. Sympathy is caused by a lot of the happenings in Pips life however we also become distanced from the narrator of the book.

    Pip is an innocent boy who has been brought up to respect his elders and betters. Pip has been an orphan for many years of his life, and is now cared for by his bitter sister, Mrs Joe and his affectionate brother-in-law, Joe. They all live together on the Thames marshes; the Thames marshes are bleak and largely uninhabited. Pip’s relatives are buried in a graveyard near Pip’s house, and he regularly visits them. Pip is very un-educated and so cannot read what it says on their tombstones, we feel sympathetic towards Pip for not being able to read what it says. Pip goes to the graveyard and gets greeted by a ‘fearful man dressed in coarse grey’; the large frightening man seizes hold of Pip and threatens him verbally.

    He then turns Pip upside down to empty his pockets. Pip tells the convict that his mother is nearby, the convict panics. Pip actually means that his mother is buried nearby. We feel sympathy towards Pip as this is all happening around his mother, father, and brothers graves. The convict is wearing irons around his leg. He later finds out that Pip lives with a blacksmith and he demands Pip to steal a file and wittles for him. Pip gets informed that he mustn’t tell anyone about the convict and if he does the convict will cut his liver out. Dickens shows how gullible Pip is by, Pip actually believing that a man would cut his liver out.

    Pip’s home life is uncomfortable. Pip and Joe are both victims of Mrs.Joe’s violent temper. Joe on the other hand is an honest blacksmith and Pips companion during Pip’s early years. Dickens creates sympathy for Pip by showing how Mrs.Joe has no maternal instincts, for example the pins and needles in her apron which stop Pip receiving love, show that Mrs.Joe is putting up a barrier. We also feel distanced from Mrs.Joe because we never find out her real name; Dickens does this to make us become distanced from Mrs.Joe. The constant vocabulary of aggression Charles Dickens uses to show Mrs.Joe’s personality makes us feel sympathy for both Pip and Joe. Pips sister always uses an angry tone of voice.

    Dickens uses exclamatory sentences, rhetorical questions and a questioning tone to show the aggression and anger inside Mrs.Joe. ‘My sister has a trenchant way of cutting bread’ this shows that not only does she bring her anger out on Pip and Joe but also brings her anger out on everything around her. We feel sympathy towards Pip as Mrs.Joe is his only relative and she treats him with no respect and love.

    Punishment in Victorian times was harsh, and Mrs.Joe punishes Pip constantly and brutally. She canes Pip with the tickler. The tickler gets described as being ‘smooth’ this adjective that Dickens uses shows that the tickler gets used frequently. Another punishment is tar-water Pip describes the tar water as smelling like a ‘new fence’ this shows that it doesn’t smell very good so most likely doesn’t taste good either. The tar-water in Victorian homes was meant to be used for medicinal purposes however Mrs.Joe uses it for a punishment. Another punishment that Pip suffers is verbal abuse. Mrs.Joe talks to Pip with no respect, also Miss Havisham, Estella and all the visitors at Christmas talk to him in a condescending way. All of the punishments are cruel, so we feel sympathy towards Pip for having to put up with these punishments.

    On Christmas day Joe and Pip both go to church, Pip wants to confess about stealing the wittles and the file. Pip has good ethics but is being troubled by not being able to own up to Joe. We feel sorry for Pip as he constantly has the thought of the convict and the robbery on his mind. Mrs.Joe invites some visitors over for Christmas. These visitors were; Mr Pumblechook, Mr Wopsle, Mr Hubble and Mrs.Hubble.

    These visitors were of a much higher class than Mrs.Joe, Pip and Joe. We get the idea that Mrs.Joe invited these visitors, to raise her social standing. Dickens shows this in the way of how Mrs.Joe’s personality changes once the guests arrive. In this chapter Mrs.Joe is mean and hypocritical, and she becomes an even less sympathetic character. When everybody is sat around the table, Pip is squeezed into a corner and had ‘the Pumblechookian elbow in his eye’. For Pip this must have been emotionally and physically un-comfortable. Pip is waiting for the revelation of the robbery whilst eating the food. The author uses the robbery and the condescending nature of the visitors to create pity for Pip in this chapter of his life.

    Pips invitation to Satis’ house was unexpected, Pip soon realises that Satis’ house has a strange inhabitant: Miss Havisham. As Pip arrives he feels insulted by Estella as she welcomes him into the house. Estella leads Pip by candlelight to Miss Havisham. Pips feelings quickly change as he meets Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham is dressed as a bride and wearing a wedding ring but everything in the room is aged and faded.

    All the watches and clocks in the house are stopped at twenty minutes to nine. Dickens creates sympathy for Pip by making the house sound dark and dismal, as Pip was probably not expecting anything like what it is like. Estella and Miss Havisham both treat Pip like a lower class; the way they do this is by constantly calling him ‘boy’ and making Pip eat his food outside like ‘a dog in disgrace’. Estella also constantly reminds Pip of his social standing by calling him a ‘Common labouring boy’. The way that both Estella and Miss Havisham treat Pip makes him resent his simple upbringing. Estella makes Pip feel worthless and she always speaks to him in a tone of disgust. The strange atmosphere that Dickens has created makes the readers feel sympathetic towards Pip.

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    Charles Dickens Great Expectations Essay. (2017, Oct 26). Retrieved from

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