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How Does Charles Dickens Create Sympathy for Pip in the Early Part of “Great Expectations”

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Great expectations was written by Charles dickens in 1861 and is about a boy named Pip who grows up to have great expectations of himself since meeting Mrs Havisham, a rich old lady. In this essay I will be looking at how Charles dickens, the writer of great expectations creates sympathy for the main character, Pip.

I will start by looking at the beginning of the book where pip first meets Magwitch in the graveyard dickens creates sympathy for pip firstly by pointing out to the reader that both pips mother and father are dead as well as his five younger brothers. Dickens then points out that he doesn’t even remember his parents as he had to try to figure out what they looked like by the writing on their tombstones. “My first fancies regarding what they were like were unreasonably derived from their tombstones.” To add to the sympathy here dickens shows what a bleak setting pip is in, firstly saying it is “overgrown with nettles” suggesting its harmful place to be then saying it’s a “dark, flat wilderness” again suggesting it is harmful and wild, he goes on to describe the sea in the distance to be a “distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing.” this setting alone would be enough to frighten an young child like pip we know pip is only a small child because the book describes him as “a small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry” this builds even more sympathy for him as it has all actually driven him to tears.

After all this, and already crying pip is confronted with “a fearful man, all in course grey, with a great iron on his leg” threatening to cut his throat, he was also a very demanding and impatient man, he demands pip to tell him his name and where he lives, he then turned pip upside down to empty his pockets, this would have terrified anybody, especially a little boy. Magwhich then goes on to threatening to let a “young man” rip out his hear and liver and heart, roast them and eat them unless he brings him a file and some “wittles” pip believes this because he is only young and gullible so he is actually scared for his life. Pip then ran home without stopping, suggesting he was very scared.

Later in the book Pip has to go meet Mrs Havisham and Estella, Miss Havisham is a very rich old lady, and is very different to Pip, she lives in a big house outside the village where Pip lives so pip feels very out of place as it is unfamiliar to him. He is then left at the gate by Mr Pumblechook so he was all alone in an unfamiliar place without anyone he knows, or has ever met before in his life. He finds this setting even stranger as he gets inside the house. The room is just as it was on the day she was meant to get married, time seems to have stopped here, the clocks have all stopped at twenty minutes to nine. A small boy would find this quite scary, especially as he has never met these people in his life. Miss Havisham as well is just like she was on her wedding day “I saw the bride within her bridal dress had withered like the dress.” “I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman and the figure upon which it now hung loose, had shrunk to skin and bone.” This would have seemed very alarming and strange to Pip that someone would still be in the same wedding dress for years.

Miss Havishmam soon goes on to ordering Pip to play, this is confusing and makes Pip feel inadequate and awkward as he doesn’t really know what he’s meant to do, and at the same time fearing he will do something wrong. When Estella is asked by Miss Havisham to play cards with Pip she says “with this boy! Why he is a common labouring-boy” Estella later in the game makes comments about Pip saying “he calls Knaves, Jacks, this boy” and “what thick hands he has, and what thick boots” these comments made Pip hate himself for being so common. When asked what he thought about her he never actually insulted her, but complimented her. This makes it easier to feel sympathy for his character as he is being nice and not really retaliating at all. He then asks Miss Havisham if he can go home, indicating that he is upset. We find out that he is really upset when he is outside the house and it says “I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry, sorry” this clearly points out to the readers exactly how Pip was feeling, he says “the tears started to my eyes” and Estella was delighted to be the cause of them even though Pip likes her and has never done anything wrong to her even though she was so cruel to him.

In conclusion Charles dickens has succeeded in creating sympathy for Pip not only by the way the other characters treat him but also by the setting he puts Pip in and the way Pip responds to it. He also creates sympathy in the way people speak to Pip and the way it affects his own opinion of himself when they make comments about him.

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