A Comparison of Chapters 1 and 39 in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations
Great Expectations is and epic novel by Charles Dickens. Set in the
Victorian times of 1850, it tells the story of Phillip Pirrip (Pip)
and his life up into his 30s. Originally used in a magazine as a short
story series, it has lengthy chapters and an in depth look into
society classes of the time.
When Pip was orphaned by the death of his parents and left alone by 5
brothers who did not survive, he was sent to live with his older
sister, Mrs Joe Gargery and her husband, Joe Gargery the blacksmith.
Although he was cared for to a basic extent, he was by no means
spoiled or expected to do great things; his future would be in
apprenticing with his blacksmith guardian. Early in his childhood an
encounter with an escaped convict who cornered Pip in the graveyard
where Pip is visiting the graves of his parents and asks him to bring
'wittles and a file'. Upon Pip's return to bring the food and file to
the convict, Pip comes across another man who the convict warns him to
stay away from. Magwitch (for that was the convicts' name) was
captured and takes the blame off of Pip by claming to have stolen the
supplies himself. Shortly after the incident, Pip is taken by his
Uncle Pumblechook to Satis House, the home of Miss Havisham to play.
An eccentric woman residing in a house where all the clocks are
stopped, the house is prepared for a wedding reception and everything
is coated in a thick layer of dust. Miss Havisham herself is always
dressed in a slowly yellowing wedding dress, stopped in time at the
moment when she was jilted.
While Uncle Pumblechook tends to business matters, Pip is left to
entertain himself. He comes across a young girl named Estella, who
treats him coldly and contemptuously, but still Pip falls in love with
her. He dreams of one day becoming a wealthy gentleman so that he can
be worthy of her, here is where Dickens begins to introduce the idea
of the benefits and differences between upper and lower social
classes. When regular visits to Miss Havisham being to take place, Pip
dreams of her paying for him to become a real gentleman so he can wed
Estella. However, his hopes are dashed when Miss Havisham puts in to
place plans for him to become a common labourer in the family
business. Pip works there unhappily, improving his education with
Biddy, and meeting Orlick the day labourer. After a particularly bad
run-in with Orlick, Mrs Gargery is attacked and becomes a mute
invalid, although Pip suspects from her hand signals and gestures that
Orlick was the culprit.
Pip continued with his monotonous work and imagined wistfully the life
of a gentleman. Out of the blue, a lawyer called Jaggers appears at
the Gargery residence claming that a secret benefactor has left Pip a
large amount of money...