Essay on Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

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Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

Introduction:

‘Great Expectations’ was one of Dickens’ best-known novels and was written in 1860. ‘Great Expectations’ is a Bildungsroman and follows the progression of Pip from child to adult; from humble blacksmith to gentleman; from innocence to experience; from rags to riches and on his journey, Pip meets a range of interesting characters, from the comical Wemmick, to the cruel Estella. This novel reflects parts of
Victorian times, with class divide, child labour and improving one’s fortunes. Dickens wrote to entertain the public and the public got a say in how the novel progressed due to the fact that Dickens wrote in monthly instalments in a magazine called ‘Household Words’.
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He has “a great iron on his leg” which shows us this character is a convict and that he may be dangerous. The fact that Magwitch is “soaked in water, smothered in mud, lamed by stones, cut by flints and stung by nettles” makes us have pity for
Magwitch and makes us ask questions such as why is Magwitch here? This creates conflicting emotions within the reader.

Dickens also uses characters speech to make them striking and memorable for the reader. We actually hear Magwitch before we see him and his first words are “hold your noise!” This immediately shocks us as well as Pip and the use of the imperative verb gives Magwitch authority. This is then added to with a threat, “keep still you little devil or I’ll cut your throat” This order again shocks the reader and we don’t like the idea of a grown man threatening a young child. We fear for Pip’s safety and we ask questions such as: Why is this man threatening Pip? And what does he want with Pip?

The background that a character appears on also affects the way a reader reacts to the character and can help to build an impression.
The more unusual or impressive the background, the more we remember it and the characters that appeared on it. Magwitch is presented against a dark, bleak background, with red and black lines
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