Last Updated 13 Mar 2020

Great Expectations Dickens

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How does Dickens create sympathy for Pip in the opening chapters of Great Expectations? Charles Dickens was born during the Victorian times, he wrote ‘great expectations’ in a weekly instalment, every week he sold one part to maintain the reader’s interest. He wanted people to understand the mass divide of the rich and poor. He wished the people would realise how badly the poor were treated at that time. He used Pip to grab the reader’s attention in the opening chapters by making him a likeable character.

Dickens did this as he made the readers sympathise for Pip. In this essay I am going to explore the language which dickens uses to create sympathy for Pip. Firstly, Pip is an unloved orphan who has no purpose in life. In the opening chapter, we are brought into light that Pip had never seen his parents as ‘’I never saw likeness of either of them’’. Dickens uses the word ‘’never’’ to emphasise the sympathy built for Pip at the start of the novel.

Moreover, we are informed that he has too lost all 5 of his younger brothers ‘’to the memory of five little brothers of mine’’. This makes the readers pity Pip which turns him into a likeable character which subsequently maintains interest in the novel. This information notifies us that he only has one family member remaining, which is his older sister. Although, she is disgraceful towards him and too goes on to die later in the story. This conveys that Pip is an extremely lonely young boy that has nobody who loves him.

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To explain Pips life in this way in the opening chapter makes the readers feel a mass amount of sympathy that continues to grow throughout the following chapters. Dickens also shows in the novel that poor people such as Pip can still be polite and have mannerisms as he says in chapter one ‘’If you would kindly please to let me upright sir’’ this shows that even when he is being threatened by Magwich which frightens him, he continues to express his politeness. The readers would feel an accumulation of sympathy as Pip; the young, innocent little boy is defenceless and has nobody to help him.

This suggests that just because he is poor doesn’t make him a horrid person, which therefore could of been used to send a message to the people as there was a mass divide of rich from poor in the time of this novel. Moreover, the beginning chapter describes the setting of the churchyard. ‘’That this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard’’ this setting reflects Pips feelings and life, dark, cold and lonely. The graveyard’s dim setting could also make Pip frightened as there is nobody else there beside himself.

Sympathy is built for the orphan due to the fact that if something dreadful occurs, no one is there to help him. This would also attract the reader to carry on reading as they have strong interest in Pip and worry if anything will happen to him. Furthermore, when the convict is brought into the story for the first time the readers would have had extreme worry for the child. As Magwich first says in an urgent tone ‘’keep still you little devil or I’ll cut your throat! ’’ which immediately informs the readers that this man is dangerous and could harm Pip.

Sympathy increases due to this as Pip is in clear danger of being harmed. In chapter eight, Pip is taken to Miss Havisham’s house where he meets her and Estella. Entering a setting where all the clocks are stopped at the same time and a woman in a faded old wedding dress and could have scared him. The peculiar room would have been noticed by readers who would have thought that Pip was in danger. Estella then mocks him as they play cards, criticising his low social class and unrefined manners.

The girl comes across as another cold, insulting character like Magwich who abuses Pip for no reason of his own, just for the fact that he’s either poor or a young defenceless boy that can be manipulated for their will. To conclude, I think Dickens has used Pips vulnerability to lure in the readers and maintain their interest. He has built up sympathy throughout the opening chapters through content, language and setting. He also attempts to send a message to the people of his time stating that some poor people, who have nothing, can be just as pleasant and polite as a rich person who has everything they could ever ask for.

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Great Expectations Dickens. (2017, Mar 24). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/great-expectations-207859/

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