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Pip’s First and Second Meeting with the Convict Able Magwitch (chapter 1 and 39)

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  • Pages: 7
  • Word count: 1615
  • Category: Character

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Great Expectations is one of Dickens most popular and famous books. It was written in the 19th century when the industrial revolution took place. This book was written in many versions. It was also published as a comic strip in the newspapers and was later on turned into a film. Through out this book Dickens tries to tell us about life in the 19th century. He discusses lots of themes in this book. Some of the themes are love, poverty, wealth, class, betrayal and crime. He has also created two of his best, most memorable characters in Miss Havisham and Pip. My essay will take a look at the books two main characters Pip and Able Magwitch. He uses these characters to make the reader realise some of the important things in 19th century life. Pip who is a young orphan boy with Great Expectations grows up to become a rich and educated gentleman who ends up being miserable as he loses his love Estella. And Able Magwitch who is an escaped, cold hearted, ruthless convict to becomes a generous, kind and somewhat feeble old man.

In chapter 1 Pip is an orphan boy, as he ‘never saw my father or my mother.’ He is a working class boy he tells us this using his ‘infant tongue.’ We also interpret that he is bought up by his sister ‘by hand’. Pip lives in a village n the countryside ‘ intersected with dykes /…/ the marshes.’ At this point the reader feels sorry for Pip, as he is an orphan who has never been given the love that he deserves.

However in chapter 39 the circumstances for Pip change as he becomes older. He is ‘made a gentleman,’ he is educated as he as a ‘taste for reading.’ He also becomes rich, as he has inherited some money from a benefactor. He has moved to ‘London from the east.’ All these changes have turned him into a snob and an inhospitable young man.

In chapter 1 Able Magwitch is an escaped convict who is a ‘fearful man.’ He is a fugitive on the run. He becomes violent towards Pip, he wants to ‘cut your throat.’ He feels hungry as he ‘ate the bread ravenously.’ He is cold as his ‘teeth chattered.’ He also looks hurt as he is ‘lamed by stones /…/ who limped.’ He is dressed ‘all in coarse grey’ and has ‘broken shoes ‘which also indicates that he is poor.

On the other hand in chapter 39 the circumstances for Able Magwitch change drastically. He turns into a affectionate man as he ‘grasped them /…/ still held them.’ He becomes rich by working ‘sure as ever I spec’lated, and got rich.’ He also becomes a benefactor to Pip ‘I’ve made a gentleman.’ though he was repulsed by the idea.

Pip is terrified in chapter 1 as ‘the small bundles of /…/ began to cry.’ He is older looking back at himself as he phrases the circumstances in the past tense. He is humorous, when talking about what happened in the past as he says ‘there was /…/ my feet.’ Pip is gullible and has no control over what ever is happening as he tells and agrees to what ever Magwitch asks him or orders him to do, for example he keeps on repeating ‘yes sir.’ This also tells the reader that Pip is respectable towards Magwitch even though he is treating him badly.

Nevertheless Pip is in control of whatever is happening in chapter 39 as the roles change. Pip has become a snob and is disrespectable towards Magwitch. He has gained power as he looks down the stairs. Near the end of this chapter Pip realises that his behaviour to others was wrong ‘but the sharpest /…/ deserted Joe.’ This change occurs when Pip discovers that Magwitch is his benefactor and that it as Magwitch who turned him into a ‘gentleman.’

We are introduced to Able Magwitch by his voice as we hear him first before seeing him ‘hold your noise’ in chapter 1. Magwitch is taking control over anything and everything that is happening between him and Pip. He is violent towards Pip and is mysterious as he ‘turned me upside down.’ Magwitch is an escaped convict as he has ‘great iron on his leg.’

Nonetheless Magwitch is still shrouded in mystery in chapter 39. He is not in control anymore as he says ‘master’ to Pip. He is much more polite to Pip has he answers all the questions asked by Pip respectfully and without hesitating, for example ‘yes I will explain my business by your leave.’ he also holds his arms out towards Pip to hug him instead of being violent towards him. The power relations between Magwitch and Pip change through the way they are positioned Pip looks down the stairs and Magwitch kneels down.

Nineteenth century life was simple. People lived rural lifestyle ‘ours was the marsh country, down by the river.’ The people were less complicated for example Joe and Biddy. They had low expectations for life. The people lived in poverty ‘trying to get a living exceedingly early in that universal struggle.’ the reader interprets this information from chapter 1.

Nineteenth century life became more complicated. People started living an urban lifestyle ‘over from the east.’ They became wealthier. People started living life to the full and increased their expectations towards life. The middle class had started moving to Britain to enjoy their wealth. This is when the industrial revolution took place. The reader obtains this information from chapter 39 and Pip from the way he changes.

For the setting in chapter 1. Dickens uses descriptive words to give the reader imagery of what the surroundings were like. The example is ‘bleak place overgrown with nettles.’ The words he uses such as ‘bleak’ gives the reader the image that the place is dull. He adds the phrase ‘over grown with nettles,’ which highlights to the reader that the place is also unattractive and rarely visited. We also find out that the atmosphere is gloomy in the churchyard. The evidence is ‘dark flat wilderness.’ The word ‘dark’ emphasis’s that the chapter is taking place at night. The word ‘flat’ clarifies that nobody else is there in the churchyard and ‘wilderness’ adds the feeling that the place is overgrown and hasn’t been looked after for a long time. We also find out that the setting is taking place in the churchyard in the countryside surrounded by marshes.

For the setting in chapter 39. Dickens use repetition to help build up the impression of a threat for example ‘stormy and wet /…/ mud, mud.’ The phrase ‘vast heavy veil had been driving over London’ suggests that there is something to be concealed and hints that something is going to be revealed. Dickens also uses metaphors to help build up imagery of how powerful the weather is and the dangers it can bring ‘ red-hot splashes in the rain.’ He is saying that the ashes are setting the river alight which is impossible this also indicates how violent the weather is. We also find out that the setting is taking place in the city of London and that London is ‘civilised’ as people did not associate with people with low lifestyles.

The intention for Dickens writing Great Expectations is he wanted the reader to think about some of the issues. He wanted the reader to about what it meant to be a gentleman in the nineteenth century, why should you respect, cherish and not forget those that love you and those who care for you as Pip disrespects Joe when he comes to visit him after Pip becomes a gentleman and that Great Expectations do not always lead to happiness as Pip looses his love Estella. He also wanted the reader to consider that people can change for example Magwitch from bad to good and how money can change the way you behave. I think that the main messages from Great Expectations is that no matter how many bad deeds a person does they can always change, that money is not the key to happiness and success and that you should never forget your past as Pip changes his behaviour towards the people he lived with drastically and then regrets it.

In conclusion I think that Dickens has portrayed his thoughts in this book well. There is a great difference between the two meeting that take place between Pip and Able Magwitch. The main differences are that in chapter 1 Pip is a working class boy who lives in the countryside and in chapter 39 Pip is a gentleman who is living in London. In chapter 1 Able Magwitch is an escaped convict who is violet and poor and in chapter 39 Able Magwitch is a polite, kind and rich old man. However there is not a vast difference between the weather and atmosphere of both chapters as in both chapters the weather and atmosphere created by Charles Dickens foreshadows that something negative ad bad is going to happen next. In both chapters Dickens uses different styles to convey to the reader that something sudden is going to happen.

Both of the meetings drive the narrative as in both of them the narrative helps change the story. As in the first meeting Pip is told by Magwitch that he has to steal which puts him in a confused, frightening situation and in the second meeting Magwitch tell the Pip that he is his benefactor which helps him release how badly he treated Joe.

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