Effectiveness Of The Opening Chapter To Great Expectations

1095 words - 4 pages

Charles Dickens ?Great Expectations? was written during the 19th century, published in weekly installments in a magazine. The novel is based around Pip, the opportunities he is presented with and the difficulties he has to face. In the first chapter we are introduced to Pip, and Magwitch, an escaped convict. The theme of crime and punishment immediately draws us in. Dickens uses a number of techniques to ensure the readers continuing interest, such as pathetic fallacy, metaphor, themes, symbolism, and adjectives.
When the convict appears, Dickens describes him using powerful word such as ?stung? ?glared? ?growled? ?terror? and ?savage? which immediately grabs the readers attention. Pip is described here as ?the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry? which makes the reader feel sympathy and encourages them to read on to find out what happens next.
Pathetic fallacy is used in the first chapter as the windy cold gloomy marshes in which Pip first encounters the convict are perceived as a fearful, sinister place.
In chapter 1 we are introduced to Pip, an orphan, and Magwitch, a convict, the two main characters and who the novel is based around. The events are described by Pip, the protagonist, whom we immediately feel sympathy for. Dickens writes ?My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip? ? his innocent childish tendencies appeal to the reader and makes them want to read on. As Dickens describes the bleak marshes in which Pip encounters the convict, a sinister, gloomy picture is painted in the readers mind. This is reinforced by the convicts threatening behavior towards Pip, as he threatens to ?cut his throat? and refers to him as a ?little devil?. The reader again feels sorry for Pip as his tragic upbringing is described, how his family died and he became orphaned.
When Magwitch, the convict is first introduced, the reader makes an immediate judgment that he is a terrifying, menacing, wild, unpleasant man. He ?limps, shivered, glared and growled? he was ?sudden and strong? and threatens and demands Pip do things for him. All the while Pip refers to him as ?Sir? showing his respectful and kind nature. Pip ?looked helplessly up into his eyes? and gives him a ?greater sense of helplessness and danger? reinforcing the idea that Pip is innocent and vulnerable.
During the rest of the novel, the characters of Pip and Magwitch develop and change in many ways. Pip becomes a rich gentleman and becomes distant and isolated from his family, Joe Gargery in particular, and begins to feel almost ?ashamed? of his upbringing and background. He becomes almost a shadow of his vulnerable, naïve, former self. Magwitch however returns from jail in Australia a polite, gentle, warm, softer man. When Magwitch returns, in chapter 39, the readers previous opinion of him is immediately changed, as he reveals that every...

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