Talk about some of the ways Charles Dickens tries to interest the reader in chapter one and two of ‘Great Expectations’. What does the reader learn about what life was like in the Victorian period from these two chapters? Charles Dickens was born in 1812 (19th century), during the Victorian period. He wrote ‘Great Expectations’ (novel) between 1860 and 1861 in 36 weekly instalments in order to interest his readers. Each weekly part had to sell and also it had to interest the reader. It was Victorian equivalent of a soap drama.
Charles Dickens was like a modern soap opera writer, because he wrote about the problems and crimes, which were going on in those days’ society. ‘Great Expectations’ is written from the point of view of a young innocent boy whose five siblings are dead. This novel is written as a melodrama as everything can be seen through Pip’s eyes and how he reacts with different problems in his life. The novel ‘Great Expectations’ is written in the first person narrative and by using this narrator the writer has tried to interest the reader by personalising the story.
Pip the main character of this novel is an orphan who lives with his sister Mrs Joe Gargery and his husband Joe Gargery who is a blacksmith. The opening paragraph of chapter one, though without dialogue was a bit dry and perhaps a bit dry, but Charles Dickens perfectly managed to draw a cold and gloomy image of churchyard in the reader’s mind. The first picture that Charles Dickens creates is of a young boy being Pip who is crying by the graveside of his parents and brothers on a misty marsh on a cold and windy winter’s afternoon. “Five little stone lozenges … memory of the five little brothers of mine who gave up trying to get a living.
” This draws the reader’s attention to Pip feeling isolated. Dickens also shows this isolation by saying that Pip is getting a vivid picture of his father and mother, whom Pip has never seen. This makes the reader to feel sorry for Pip as a young aged boy who has no image of his parents, as photographs weren’t invented then. “Their days were long before the days of photograph. ” Charles Dickens highlights the danger of Pip’s environment and his weakness to his surrounding by through the descriptions of the landscape. Dickens uses threatening metaphors like “Low leaden line” and “Savage lair”.
These threats hint and prepare the reader for other incidents later on in the book. Charles Dickens also builds on the first impression of the danger of the marsh by using the colours such as red and black, which are associated with death, “Angry red lines”, “With dense black lines intermixed”. Then Dickens creates a vigorous image of Pip imagining Magwitch as the hanged pirate limping towards the gibbet. This image prepares the reader for the death of Magwitch. At the end of chapter one Dickens creates a very dramatic visual image of Pip looking out at his surroundings.
Dickens also creates a striking vision of hell by describing Pip seeing the marshes as a ‘long black horizontal line’, then the rivers as another, ‘yet not so broad, yet not so black’ and then the sky as ‘just a row of angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed’. Dickens describes the lines as ‘angry’, also suggesting the atmosphere is uneasy and unsafe. Dickens adds to the drama of the description by adding the image of the gibbet, which is also associated with death. Chapter one ends with Pip announcing his fear “Now I was frightened again”, bringing a sense of reality to the chapter, then Pip ‘running home without stopping’.
This leaves the chapter full of mystery and encourages the audience to read on and find out about what happens to Pip. In chapter two, the scene of the story is set in a kitchen and this is where Pip’s sister and his husband are introduced. Dickens spends the first paragraph of this chapter to describe the personality of Pip’s sister, “Knowing her to have a hard and heavy hand” and “To be much in the habit of laying her hand upon her husband as well as upon me”. By the end of the first paragraph of chapter two, we know that Pip’s sister is a violent person who believes in ‘Child should be seen and not heard’.