Charles Dickens: Great Expectations
Describe how Dickens creates atmosphere and introduces characters in
Chapter One of Great Expectations.
In this essay I am going to describe how Dickens successfully uses
tension and drama to create atmosphere and to introduce his characters
status, emotions and identity in the opening chapter of Great
Expectations. The central character, Pip, is followed from youth as he
makes the journey from poverty to riches and back again as he attempts
to fulfil his own great expectations. To do this I will be examining
in close detail the techniques he used to sustain the reader’s
interest in the first chapter.
Dickens introduces the opening of this novel with death “from their
tombstones” and violence “Don’t cut my throat!” This is a typical
convention of gothic literature. This chapter is set among desolate
marshes in a ruined graveyard. The weather plays an important part in
the opening chapter “the sky was a row of long angry red lines” and
“dense black lines”; “the wind was “rushing”. These are examples of
pathetic fallacy, this is when the weather is used to reflect what is
happening in the story. To create atmosphere Dickens drags out how
Pip’s family is all dead and how Pip is alone in the world, “dead and
buried”. This makes the readers feel sorry for Pip because he is all
alone in the world and we don’t know yet whether he has somebody to
look after him or not. However later on in the chapter we are told
that he lives with his sister and her husband the blacksmith “[Mr.
And] Mrs. Joe Gargery”.
Dickens uses a lot of metaphors to describe what he is saying in the
story “Savage lair from which the wind was rushing was the sea”.
Dickens uses imagery in chapter one “overgrown with nettles” and “dark
flat wilderness”. This is describing the graveyard and creates images
of gravestones and the church overgrown in nettles situated on a flat
area of land. Dickens also uses repetition in many places to add
effect “He tilted me again”
The place where Pip lives is in the middle of nowhere “ours was the
marsh country, within as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea”.
There is a sudden burst of tension when an unknown character suddenly
appears, “Hold your noise”. This happens very suddenly and grabs the
readers attention. Towards the end of the first chapter Dickens uses a
gothic symbol of death to create fear in both the characters and the
readers, “A gibbet with some chains hanging to it”. A gibbet is a
piece of equipment used to bring about the end of someone’s life
especially that of a pirate. It is also sometimes known as a hangman’s
Pip is the main character who instantly gets the readers interested in
his story from the start. The name Pip being a nickname from “Phillip
Pirrip” would state a point that he may be small for...