The opening chapter of Great Expectations is effective because Dickens uses a range of techniques in his writing that makes the reader want to find out what happens to Pip later on in the story. The chapter starts with a brief introduction, into how Pip got his name. The first paragraph uses short, simple sentences to hook the reader in and not using long, complicated sentences that will bore us. The paragraph uses a lot of repetition on the name “Pip”. “Pip” is most likely to be a child’s name and we can identify that this character is probably sweet and innocent.The sentence structure also reflects this, in how they are short, simple and catchy. The story then goes on to tell us about Pips family.
The length of this second paragraph is a lot longer than the first. I think this is because the first paragraph is simply a concise introduction, so then the second paragraph goes into more detail and provides the reader with a lot more information. This extra information helps us to sympathize for Pip, as he has lost most of his family, leaving just his older sister “Mrs. Joe Gargery- wife of Joe Gargery, the blacksmith” to look after him.
We also empathize with Pip as he has never seen his mother nor father, yet he has “drawn a childish conclusion” of what he thinks they might have looked like. “The shape of the letters on … was freckled and sickly. ” This image that he has drawn up of his parents, also gives the reader an insight into Pips extraordinary imagination. At the time in which the story is set in, Pip isn’t as upset about losing family members as people in the 21st Century would be.
This is because at the time there was so much disease and lack of medicine, deaths were extremely more common. We can tell from this paragraph that Pip is an adult here, writing about his experiences as a child. We know this because the language is a lot more complex, “…
were unreasonably derived… “, and makes Pip the child sound less mature and more child-like.
This memory in Pips life must have been a particularly unpleasant incident, as it has stuck clearly with him throughout his life, as if it happened yesterday.The image which Dickens uses to describe the locations of Pips little brothers, is “… five little stone lozenges.
.. “. This image portrays how small his brothers were when they died and how coarse and harsh their deaths were to Pip, but going to their graves makes him feel better just like a lozenge would soothe a sore throat. The initial feelings we have towards Pip are compassion and sympathy as he has lost most his family at such a young age. The third paragraph is made up of only three sentences, despite taking up sixteen lines.The first two sentences are quite short while the third is rather complex.
I think it is extended like this because Pip is trying hold back tears by reeling-off information about his younger brothers and wanting to get on to another subject, not showing his true emotions. This could be a sense of pride coming through the adult Pip. This long, drawn-out sentence builds up tension which breaks when the child Pip finally lets out a cry. This sentence includes a detailed description about the bleak, dark landscape in which the graveyard is set in.The final section of this paragraph is brilliant in deflating the atmosphere of the opening part. It does this by a dark, mysterious description of the landscape, to then deflate this atmosphere by bringing our attention back to Pip, “.
.. and beginning to cry, was Pip. ” We can tell at this point that the narrator must be Pip the adult as apposed to the infant because he refers to himself in the third person rather than the first person. This could be another sign that the adult Pip is trying to show how strong, brave and manly he is by not admitting that him who was crying.Dickens novels are famous for their dramatic qualities; in fact the author spent much of his later life touring America , giving dramatic readings of his novels.
” ‘Hold your noise… ‘”, this section of the chapter can be seen as especially dramatic because convict hasn’t been introduced, and suddenly here he is “… crying out in a terrible voice..
. ” . This must have been dreadfully terrifying for Pip as such a young child. The series of three sentences that begin the fourth paragraph, “A fearful man..
. all lack verbs. Dickens omits the verbs from all of these sentences because it builds up tension to break at the word “seized”.The first three sentences are all giving description and, don’t include any actions. He saves the longest sentence in sequence till the end, to gradually add dramatic tension and make the reader interested and want to find out what the convict is going to do to Pip.
This tension then snaps at the most powerful verb in the sentence; “seized”, when the convict grabs Pip by the chin.In the last sentence there is a slight use of alliteration, with a few words starting with the letter “s”, such as “soaked”, “smothered”, “stones”, “stung”, “shivered” and most importantly “seized”. The effect of alliteration use in this sentence is to add more drama to the paragraph. I would describe the conversation between the convict and Pip as fearful. Words spoken by the convict which have particular power are in the sentences, ” ‘Tell us your..
. it mouth! ‘”, this shows that the convict is in control. Parts of the section that can be found as especially amusing, could be ” ‘Now then, lookee here!… y mother. ‘” This section has dramatic irony, in that we know Pips mother is dead but the convict doesn’t realize that’s what Pip means and starts to run, thinking that his mother is there with Pip.
This adds humour, to the story and gives the reader something to laugh about, imaging the convict trying to run away from Pips ‘mother’, even more so while Magwitch has a ball and chain attached to his ankles. In these few paragraphs Pip conveys a terrifying visual image, which shows his sense of terror. This image is that of the church “… oing head over heels before me.
.. “, as if the church turned upside down, in front of him. He also makes this image sound as if the convict is so strong, that it is him who is lifting the church up and turning it upside down, when in fact, the convict is actually turning Pip upside down and so appearing to Pip as though he “…
saw the church steeple under my feet… “. In this next interchange Dickens alternates humour and terror. This is done by providing the reader with dark, mysterious, scary speech and then a humorous thought coming from Pip, ” ‘You young dog..
.Darn me if I couldn’t eat ’em..
. ” and then “I believe they were fat… “.
Although Pip was clearly frightened by the convict he was still able to make a joke and use his vivid imagination to take his mind away from the graveyard. The old folk tale Little Red Riding Hood links in with this part of the story, because like in the folk tale with the Big Bad Wolf and Little Red Riding Hood, the convict is expressing his hunger by saying how big and lovely the poor, innocent Pips cheeks are, and how he could just eat them all up.In this next section we start to realise that Magwitch has no intentions of killing Pip, and after hearing Pip lives with his sister, who is married to a blacksmith, the convict realises that he must be very careful into not scaring the young boy too much or else he wont get him the file that he needs to break the ball and chain from his ankles, ” ‘Now lookee here… You know what a file is?…
You know what wittles is… “. The effect of Dickens using repetition of the phrase “He tilted me again. “, is to let the reader know that the convict still has all the power over Pip.The trustiness and slight bravery in Pips behaviour perhaps indicates that he understands that Magwitch is not really such an ogre.
The trust that Pip is showing is really slightly emotional, in the fact that Pip doesn’t have a father there to protect him, but instead he realises that the convict only wants his help, that he wont hurt him, and although very frightened, maybe some of this fear is now coming from the surroundings rather than because of the convict, causing Pip to start to see Magwitch as a fatherly role, so he can cling to him for protection.This is very effective because we see how loving, kind and innocent Pip really is and it makes us start to feel even more sympathy towards him, for not having a father but also pride for Pip, because he is being so brave throughout the whole experience. The next section shows again, how much the convict wants Pip to get him the file and food, by seeing Magwitch do as Pip asks, in order not to scare him off. He does add a “..
. tremendous dip and roll…
“, but this just lets Pip and the reader know that although Magwitch is doing as Pip wants, he is still in charge.Dickens creates the voice and personality of Magwitch very well in the speech that he gives in the extended paragraph. This is done by using a lot of slang and writing the words as if been spoken by someone with a very broad and southern accent. Parts of the convicts speech are arranged, to make him sound quite intelligent. This could be hinting that the convict has had some kind of formal education. This may have come from spending a lot of time being near the court and with his lawyer, who comes into the story later on.
The rhetorical features of Magwitch’s discourse are as though he is trying to rush through his speech to make sure he doesn’t get caught. “pecooliar”, “..
. I am a Angel…
“, “partickler”, and “sumever”, are all words which indicate that the convict speaks in a dialect. Elements of the story that indicate that Magwitch actually understands the psychology of Pip really well are the bits where he predicts Pip’s routine and what he will do when he gets home. “Now I ain’t alone as..
. Now, what do you say? “. He shows a certain level of intelligence, as he is using Pips imagination against him to scare him into bringing the food and file.Magwitch knows what will scare Pip and how to use the Young Man story to trick him.
We find out later in the story that the convict has a daughter and so this is probably how he understands Pips mind so well. “… of getting a boy…
for a boy… a boy may..
. “, whilst telling Pip about the Young Man, Magwitch uses repetition on the word “boy”, to add power to the threat. It adds power by not saying exactly who the boy is, but it makes Pip aware that it is exactly what Pip will do when he returns home, thinking he is safe, but then unexpectedly the Young Man may “..
. reep and creep his way to him and tear him open… “.
The story then goes into another interchange, which Magwitch shows a certain fatherly attitude towards Pip. He starts to make humorous jokes with him, pretending he wishes he was a frog or an eel, “… ‘I wish I was a..
. ‘”. This shows the reader again, that he doesn’t want to hurt Pip at all, and that he just wants reassurance that Pip is going to do as he has promised. Also he starts to show some emotion for Pip, ” ‘Now, you remember…
and you get home! ‘”, hoping that Pip will make it home safely.The sudden switch to a serious tone at the start of the next paragraph, “At the same time, he hugged his… “, makes the reader change their initial thoughts about the convict, from anger or fear, to sympathy and sadness. The word “shuddering”, is so powerful because it shows a number of things, such as coldness. The convict must be so cold as he has travelled so far in wet, torn clothing, so he is shuddering to keep himself warm. It also shows a sense of nervousness and anticipation.
This will be because he isn’t sure whether or not Pip will stick to his promise or will he go and tell someone about their encounter. …
his shuddering body in both his arms- clasping as if to hold himself together… ” , this section of the paragraph really shows the reader what a hard, tough journey the convict has had and how torn, battered and worn out this poor man really is. As the convict leaves the scene, both Pip and the reader feel a sense of fear again. This is because Pip was starting to see the convict as protection, now he has gone, Pip has to face the churchyard alone. “When he came to the low church wall.
.. “, in this paragraph, Pip starts to feel sorry for the convict having to make his way back to the marshes for the night.He turns to check on Magwitch, inwardly wishing he could help him further or by giving him a warm bed to sleep in. In the final paragraph in the chapter, Dickens describes and repeats the horizontal lines in the landscape. There are two lines that the writer mentions in particular, “.
.. just a row of long, angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed. “.
He uses these two colours for the lines to describe the hostility of the area and also because they could each represent one of the two characters we have met.Red lines for Pip, as red can been seen as fear, death, blood and danger. All these things were used as a threat towards Pip if he didn’t complete his promise. The black lines could be representative of the convict, as the colour is usually seen as bold, sincere, secretive and serious. The convict undoubtedly is all of these things as he is a man who likes to be in charge and independent. The lines also describe the vast landscape and how in a way it is all layered up, one thing on top of the other, and that its all laying flat, not standing out.On the edge of the river..
. the only two black things in all the prospect that seemed to be standing upright. ” These two objects that Pip is able to perceive in the distance are a beacon by which the sailors steered and a gibbet, with some chains, that once held a pirate. The symbolic significance that they take on, is the fact that Pip saw the convict “limping on towards” them and limping could often be linked to pirates with wooden legs, this image uses a simile “as if he were the pirate come to life… “, which makes the reader see the convict as a pirate.
Also as he has come from the sea, this could also be linked in with the pirate image. These images suggest that the life that Pip is going to embark on, is going to be a mysterious and unexpected one. It also makes the reader wonder whether after Pip has returned to give the convict food and a file, will it be the last we see of Magwitch or will he return later on in the story. In conclusion, I think that Dickens has written this chapter brilliantly, to give such a powerful impact to the reader. It shows fear, humour and many other emotions which help make it such a success.