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Having Read Great Expectations How Effective is the Opening Chapter?

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At first, Dickens has started “Great Expectations” as a little entertaining short story. Quoting Dickens himself from an accompanying note to the first instalment

“I have made the opening, I hope, in its general effect exceedingly droll. I have put a child & a good – natured foolish man, in relations that seems to me very funny” Throughout the novel “Great Expectations” Pip character and personality goes through some transformations. He is somehow similar at the start and end, but very different while growing up. The novel is a story of an orphan boy called Pip but this in not the first time Dickens uses an orphan character he has another novel called “Oliver Twist” and he is an orphan to.

Pip is influenced by many characters, but two in particular: Estella, the hard headed girl from the Manor House, and Magwitch, the convict from the marshes. Some things cause strength or growth in a person are responsibility, discipline and surrounding ones self around people who are challenging and inspiring. Pip has dreams and resulting disappointment that eventually lead him to becoming a genuinely good man. During his transformation into adulthood, Pip comes to realise two diverse concept of being a gentlemen and he come to find out the real gentlemen in his life aren’t the people he had initially thought.

In the first chapter Pip begins the story as a young orphan boy being raised by his sister Mrs. Joes and brother in law Mr Joe the blacksmith in the marsh, in the southeast of England. His name is

“Pip but it came from Pirrip his father and Christian name Philip”. Pip is a passionate and romantic character; he tends to expect more for him then is reasonable. Pip also has a powerful conscience, and he deeply wants to improve himself, both morally and socially.

Then the next person that shows in the first chapter is the convict he is a fearsome criminal. The convict escaped from prison and terrorized Pip in the cemetery. Pip’s kindness makes a deeper impression on him, and he devotes himself to making a fortune also using it to elevate Pip into a higher social class. However later on he becomes Pips secret benefactor, funding Pip’s education and lifestyle in London. The author draggers the readers attention by brining the characters to life e.g. letting the convict speak

“hold you noise!” before he is even seen and also when he turns Pip upside down. The convict is a “fearful man” so this shows that the writer is trying to describe the convict as evil but at the same time want us to feel sorry for him because he has a sad life plus poor “broke shoes”

As the start of the novel, Pip is uneducated and unaware of his social class, or even that he belongs to a social class. Since Pip does not know of any “better” lifestyle, Pip is contending with what he has and who he knows. As life goes on, he meets new people from both higher and lower social classes plus his contend turns to greed and shame, as he immediately longs to be better educated. Then he is suddenly ashamed of his family. Pip learns as he grows older, however, that having money and power also being of a higher social class is not necessarily better than having true friends that care about him even if they are of a lower social class. It seems to me that Charles Dickens write this novel to represent Dickens’ father when he lost his social position through bankruptcy, and that Dickens once worked in a boot-blacking factory.

In the eighteen hundreds the convicts where being transported to Australia some of the punishment included crime of murder however most of the convicts where children and they where at risk of becoming involved in criminal activities also it was hoped that the kind of practical education provided in these schools would prevent them from slipping into a life of crime. However in Victorian England, some criminals were good men trapped by an unfair system that punishment missed the guilty and that prison was a crowded place to be in plus that England’s system of justice was totally unjust.

I believe that the author Charles Dickens used a sympathetic character because it guides the reader to feel anxious for Pip and Dickens used repetition like “And” to create tension and fear of the word since it’s being stuttered as if Pip is in fear. I think that the author appears to be mimicking Pip’s fear and anxiety. Pip grows up ashamed of his lower to middle class family, but at the end he becomes best of friend with the convict who is low class.

Another language technique which Dickens uses is the story within story but the entire novel deals with the story of Pip, but at the same time different characters tell their stories to Pip for example Miss Havisham tells stories to Pip but Pip is known’s Miss Havisham’s plot “well I thought I overheard Miss Havisham answer only it seemed so unlike well, you can break his heart”.

This shows the first point in the story when the reader can see Miss Havisham’s plot with Estella all of these stories are pieced together similar to the other stories that Dickens write for example” Oliver Twist”.

Charles Dickens always use cliff-hangers because it keeps the readers interested from week to week it also makes the readers curious at the end of each chapter like will Pip and Estella get together? Who is pips benefactor? Will Magwitch escape again?

It actually turns out that the convict was kind of a good man to Pip, if it was not for the convict Pip would not be where he was now the scene between Pip and the convict turning pip upside down becomes a metaphor. The convict turns Pips whole life around by making him a gentleman. The other techniques that Chares Dickens use to ensure his readers will read on is that he makes the story quite hilarious at the beginning and what matters to Dickens is not what you achieve, but what kind of person you are I think this was the point of the novel.

But it seems awkward that he really intended for Joe to appear to the reader as a “foolish man!” However this sets the tone for a story which is at times funny so the message of “Great Expectations” is the class difference may seem important, but actually they are not.

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