Chapters One and Thirty Nine of Great Expectations
In the novel 'Great Expectations', chapter 1 and chapter 39 are both
descriptions of Pip's encounters with Magwitch the convict.
The two chapters have key differences and important similarities.
In the first chapter, Pip is alone on the bleak and inhospitable
marshes, the wind is cold and violent and creates a threatening and
frightening mood for both Pip and the reader. Pip is a poor young
orphan boy and is in the wild overgrown churchyard visiting his
family's grave. From the fact that most of his family are dead, we
learn that in the 19th century, the life expectancy was very low and
infant mortality was very high.
Pip feels alone and scared and is 'beginning to cry'.
This compares to chapter 39 in that the weather is similar and also
creates a threatening mood by being 'Stormy and wet'. Even though he
is inside and safe, he still feels alone and exposed to the weather as
he does in chapter 1.
In Chapter 39 Pip's circumstances have changed considerably. He is now
a young gentleman of means, sharing rooms with a friend in London,
whereas in Chapter 1 he was a poor, young boy living with his sister
and her husband on the country marshes.
In Chapter 1 when Pip first encounters the convict, he springs upon
Pip without warning and begins to interrogate him.
The convict is presented as 'a man with no hat', which in Victorian
times meant a man who wasn't a gentleman.
The convict also has a large list of sufferings,
'Soaked Smothered Lamed Cut' which Dickens uses to make us almost
feel sorry for the convict, as we see he is in a lot of pain, even
though in this chapter he comes across as evil and heartless. Pip
feels very threatened and describes the man as 'fearful'. The convict
has control over Pip and the situation right throughout, issuing
commands and instructions rather than questions and queries; 'Tell us
your name!' and 'Show us where you live!'.
Pip is still polite to this fellow even though he is threatening and
bullying Pip. Because Pip is so frightened of the convict he fully
cooperates with him and agrees to everything the man asks of him.
In chapter 39, when the convict returns , he is presented in a very