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Tension In The Opening Chapter Of Great Expectations

1643 words - 7 pages

Charles Dickens’ world applauded novel of Great Expectations creates tension to grab the audience’s attention instantaneously because of the language devices he delicately lays out throughout the novel. This persuades the reader to go on and find out about what Pip would get up to, what sort of situations he will come across, and what his reactions would be towards the story. He does this in order to inform the audience of the daily problems that occur in the Victorian society and the conclusion the characters come to such as, becoming a gentleman, then changing completely, like Dickens says ‘snob’.
The opening chapter is set in a graveyard, this immediately hints at an air of anxiety because it is desolated and sinister, representing the whole story in only the first few paragraphs of the novel. The opening chapter is set in the middle of the “marsh country, down by the river, within … twenty miles of the sea”. Dickens creates a rough surrounding throughout the first few paragraphs by using harsh vocabulary, such as “…raw afternoon, towards evening”. Immediately this sets the reader in the mood and prepares them for an excellent novel.
However this is not carried out throughout the whole of the chapter because it uses extremely simple language which isn’t enough to catch the reader’s attention. The opening chapter wants us to read on; on the other hand the basic vocabulary used throughout the chapter puts the novel down. A wide use of vocabulary would have boosted the story’s tension up and made it even more spectacular. However, its elementary vocabulary gives us enough information to be informed of who looks like whom. For example ‘curly black hair’ throws an image of a man with very dark, curly hair, a very ordinary man. Straight away we have an idea of what’s going on and Pips basic background. For example, he explains what he is usually called, who he lives with and how they are related. This lets us understand easily some of the characters and the reader predicts, from their personality, what would happen, therefore making them want to read on to see if their predictions are right or not. The vocabulary may not be enough to catch the reader’s attention, but it is easy to understand and imagine. Conversely, basic vocabulary is used because Pip is a young boy around the ages of eight or nine, the story is being told from Pip’s point of view, complicated vocabulary wouldn’t make sense in young Pip’s shoes. The basic vocabulary leads onto imagery rapidly, due to the simple, but imaginable words used to describe characters, feeling and emotions, and the setting.
Throughout the opening chapter, flashes of imagery are used a lot to give us an idea of what’s going on, making it more accessible for the reader to understand the feelings and emotions of the characters. This is an excellent device Dickens has used in order to keep the reader attached to the story and imagine what exactly is going on, making it easier for the reader to understand,...

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