When Pip arrives the next evening with the things for the convict, Magwitch’s whole attitude soon changes from a threatening, scary character, to a thankful yet still tough character. Magwitch’s character is threatening and nasty so this makes the audience dislike him and feel no sympathy for him, which is a complete contrast to how we are meant to feel for the young orphan boy Pip. As we learn from Pip and Magwitch’s first meeting, they have many similarities.
They both have a poor background; Pip has grown up without even meeting his parents and Magwitch is a convict on the run. They are both lonely and isolated from the world, living without having anybody there for them or anyone to love them. They are both very vulnerable as they have no protection from the evils in the world, but go alone. Graveyards are automatically thought of as neglected and lonely places to be. Most people fear them as (like Magwitch) they are home to things which people think of as not human almost animal-like creatures and things people have nightmares about.
By setting the scene here the author, Dickens, has been able to link it greatly to both Pip and Magwitch, as both of them are scared, neglected and lonely just like the graveyard. Dickens has been very clever in the way that he creates and builds up the whole of the scene. Placing Pip at the bottom of it all, he makes the setting seem so big and heavy against this small young boy, implying that it would be far too great for young Pip to handle.
In conclusion I feel the opening chapter of ‘Great Expectations’ is every effective as Dickens has cleverly told the novel as Pip remembering his childhood experience, and does a very good job of making the reader read further into the novel as it leaves the first chapter on a climax, with this young orphan boy becoming friends with an escaped convict. By Pip becoming friends with Magwitch it shows that there may be some hope later on in the novel for both characters. The beacon in the first chapter could symbolise the light at the end of the tunnel for both characters. This storyline makes the novel very unique in its own way and as Dickens cleverly describes each character to judge the way the reader will feel about each character in particular.
We feel the sympathy and empathy for the young orphan Pip and want to find out how his encounter with Magwitch will later change his life but at the same time we wonder how the convicts encounter with the orphan who could have possible saved his life changed his thoughts on the world. It makes the read wonder weather the two will later meet again in the story and what effects it will have. Overall the first chapter of the novel is able to hook the reader with its description of the characters and the way Dickens sets the setting, by creating the kind of atmosphere that he does the reader is interested to find out why, on Christmas Eve, the young orphan wonders alone to have such an ordeal with such an animal like man, who will later change Pip’s life, forever.
It is evident that the opening of ‘Great Expectations’ is an extremely effective piece of writing and a thrilling and compelling story. By the end of the opening you can clearly see that Pip is no longer scared of Magwitch and the young, nae Pip that there was in the very beginning is starting to grow just like the title ‘Great Expectations’ suggests. I conclude that by the language Dickens has used to create two realistic and believable characters, and by the way he makes the setting stand off the page that ‘Great Expectations’ can only get better. And as the title suggests we can only come to expect great things from that ‘small bundle of shivers’ Pip.