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An Exploration of the Relationship Between Pip and Magwitch in Great Expectations

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Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812. Dickens was sent to school at the age of seven, this proved fairly pointless as Dickens’ father, John Dickens, soon fell into debt and was put into prison, the rest of the Dickens family, due to finances were forced to join their father in prison, although Charles was made to work . So at the age of 12 Dickens was forced to work in a blacking factory. It was here that Dickens experienced loneliness for the first time in his life; working in the factory and living without his family proved influential in his career as Dickens became a very self-reliant and dedicated worker, Dickens carried this way of working into his writing career. After 6 months at the Blacking factory, Dickens was able to go back to school.

He grew up to become a journalist, this is where he met his future wife Catherine Hogarth. Dickens took his skills as a highly acclaimed journalist and became a novelist, publishing his first novel ‘The Pickwick Papers’ which were released in monthly instalments from March 1836 to November 1837. Everyone can relate to Dickens’ novels as he uses a huge variety of characters, all from different backgrounds and places in society. The poverty that Pip lived through and the wealth of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations meant everyone could read and relate to Dickens’ work. Charles Dickens wrote mainly for the fame and wealth being an author brings.

In Great Expectations Dickens uses a variety of writing techniques, he commonly uses repetition. Dickens repeats words in his description of Pip and the scenery to emphasize the bleakness of the scenery and the vulnerability of Pip. “Dead and buried” is repeated whilst Pip is in the graveyard; by repeating this the reader understands that Pip realises that he is isolated in the world and everyone that was once close to him or cared for him, is now dead. When in London, whilst describing the streets the word ‘mud’ is repeated over and over. This is done to emphasize the state of the streets and to really drill it into your mind, also it links back to the mug Pip had to live through in his earlier life, forcing Pip to feel almost like he hasn’t yet achieved anything.

Dickens tends to used ironic twists in Great Expectations, for example Magwitch slowly dying after being sentenced to death. Dickens ties up ends that he deliberately leaves through at the novel. For example when Pip finds himself in trouble in the London scenes, the scenery begins to deteriorate along with Pips mental state, as Pip has no idea where his new found wealth is coming from, he doesn’t know if or when the money is going to run out and he will be left stranded. This makes Pip, as a character very vulnerable and afraid. This links to the beginning of the book where Pip is described as ‘that small bundle of shivers, growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry was Pip.’ Whilst feeling very small and insignificant, Pip is attacked by Magwitch, and as you are reading the novel through the eyes of Pip, it affects you as a reader too. Dickens as a writer had to define his scenery in such great lengths as the reader had no photographic memory to draw a picture in their minds. In the Victorian era, cameras weren’t around so the reader had only the words to base their imagery on.

Dickens writes the story through the eyes of the child Pip, this is achieved by using a variety of simple and na�ve language when he is speaking, or thinking. Dickens uses very short sentences when talking through Pip, his vocabulary is limited, and his emotions are very straight forward and child like. Although as the character of Pip grows up, so does his choice of words this is shown in the first paragraph ‘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’ the description is written in a list like a primary school child would write.

Dickens’ writing the novel from personal experiences forces the story to come across as more realistic and easier to understand. The court scene links to the fact he grew up with experiences of court all around him, his father being imprisoned, and he later became a court journalist. He knew a lot about the jury and the scene where Magwitch is sentenced is written in great detail. Dickens cleverly makes the court scene come across that as Magwitch is innocent, it seems that the judges become the guilty, evil characters of the scene, he elaborates on this idea by putting the judges in a dark, shadow of light, but Magwitch has a ray of light on his head almost.

The difference between the voices of Magwitch and Pip is large, Magwitch comes across as a very frightening character, and he uses strong, common words and phrases. ‘Pint out the place’. Where as Pip, a very timed character has a very quiet voice, Pip pleads with Magwitch, showing he is scared ‘I pray don’t do it, sir.’ Pip is very polite, in contrast to Magwitch who clearly hasn’t been brought up with manors and is very bold. The use of similes is very effective in Dickens’ work. ‘As if some goblin has been crying out there all night, and using the window for a pocket handkerchief.’ Dickens would elongate the simile making each simile into its only mini story, this sets him apart from all other authors.

I think that Dickens wanted to highlight a lot of in Great Expectations, child cruelty. Dickens cleverly uses the phrase ‘brought up by hand’ to describe Pip’s upbringing by Mrs Joe Gargery. Dickens himself would of experienced cases of cruelty first hand working in the blacking factory as a child, the factory owners would have little regard for the workers which could be why Dickens emphasizes the point of cruelty in the portrayal of Mrs Gargery. Dickens looked to show the fact that you can grow up to be want you want to be as the main character, Pip, comes from a very working-class background, living in poverty and despite this Pip follows his dreams and grows up to be a gentleman, even if his funding did come from an escaped convict. I feel Dickens also tried to show the mockery that is the judicial system, in the final scenes, the innocent Magwitch is sentenced to death, for coming back to England to witness what he had done to the character of Pip. This leaves the reader to decide themselves weather they think of the final death sentence given to Magwitch is unfair or not. I feel that due to Dickens clever writing techniques he manages to portray his points very effectively.

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