Great Expectations was written in 1861, right after Dickens had divorced Kate, his first wife. Dickens basically invoked his own emotions in the story. It was where his heart lay. Also, anyone who has read more of Dickens’ work can clearly see his determination to avoid repeating himself in this impressive gothic novel dealing with the fortunes and misfortunes that befall the main character Pip. At first, Dickens had started it as a little humorous short story. Quoting Dickens himself from a accompanying note to the first installment: ‘I have made the opening, I hope, in its general effect exceedingly droll.
I have put a child and a good-natured foolish man, in relations that seem to me very funny.’ This note does seem rather out of place – Admittedly, the beginning of the story is quite hilarious. But it seems awkward that he really intended for Joe to appear to the reader as a “foolish man.” However, this sets the tone for a story which is at times funny, but equally sinister and often harrowing. One of the most striking things one encounters while reading the book, are the changes Pip goes through once he has moved to London to be raised a gentleman. He hardly writes to Joe or Biddy, the only two characters in the book who expressed their love for him, and also he only seems to care for money and status. I refuse to believe that this malice is inherent to Pip’s character.
As this story only focuses on Pip, I would like to think that something happened to him which made him in act in such a manner. This essay doesn’t claim to know the story, or what Dickens’ intended it to be. You, as a reader, do not have to agree on the theories found herein. All I ask of you is that you consider them. characters vs. locations Any given Dicken’s work is infested with dozens characters. Many of his different books contain, in essence, the same characters.
The only difference between these characters is shown in the way they react to their environment. They react according to the situation Dickens cared to drop them in. These are usually the less important characters rather than the main characters. The latter are more interesting to Dickens, because they are the story.
It may seem as if most of Dickens’ novels are for the largest part original, but not without ‘recycling’ some of his earlier, smaller characters. One may find that this sounds boring, but Dickens’ stories do not induce the feeling that one has already read a certain book, but more the familiar feeling that one has just run into some old friends. A list of the different characters would be as follows.
I have divided the characters over the two areas in which they play their part: marshes: ? Pip ? Joe Gargery ? Mrs. Gargery ? Biddy ? Pumblechook ? Miss Havisham ? Estella ? Mr Pumblechook ? the Hubbles ? Mr Wopsle ? Orlick ? Magwitch / Provis ? Compeyson london:? Pip ? Mr. Jaggers ? Wemmick + the Aged ? Estella ? Mr ; Mrs Pocket ? Herbert Pocket ? Bentley Drummle ? Startop ? Magwitch / Provis ? Compeyson (The names marked with a round disc are the names of the characters that play parts in both London as well as the marshes.) The two most important locations are, globally spoken, London and the Marshes, as can be seen in the list of characters.
The characters with a block in front of their name operate solely in London, which to me seems like a place of growth, and also a place of deceivement. The village on the marshes is a place which is home to Pip, and yet he wants to escape it. He feels as if it is not good enough for him, or rather, that he is not good enough for Estella, as it is her, together with Mrs. Havisham, who induced this idea.
In other words, by unconsciously projecting his “self-hatred” on his home town he evades having to learn to hate himself. Thus, he goes to London, courtesy of Magwitch. On arriving there, he is impressed with this new gentleman’s life. Indeed, he is impressed enough to forget all about his old friends, Biddy and particularly Joe, who claimed Pip was his sole reason for marrying Mrs. Gargery. Still, it is hard to blame Pip, even though he seems to be a bit of a snob at times.
I think that Ursula made a deep impression on him. Deep enough, to forfeit all the love he was given for an uncertain future and a vain hope to ever win the love of a certain woman. What made him do it? I think that the idea of characters being vulnerable to evil is appropriate here. Pip was tainted by evil in the guise of Ursula, who was raised by Mrs. Havisham The only exception to the rule that London is a place with negative influences would be Joe Gargery, because when he comes to London to take care of Pip after he falls ill, eh doesn not change. However, I will not to include him, because this happens after, or rather, during Pip’s resurrection, when he finally starts to see what Biddy has been seeing for quite some time. He sees where he came from and who his real friends are.
This is one of the major “turning points” in the book. The impression Dickens delivers of the Marshes is sinister. It is dark and foggy. In London, such an impression is not provided by Dickens until he wants us to feel as if the circle has been completed. This happens on the estuary of the Thames, which is, in fact very similar to the graveyard scene.
For the first time in London, Pip experiences mist. It is dark and idea of a huge “plane” of water evokes the same sort of image as the Marshes do: a feeling of being lost in an ever-stretching landscape. Also, in comparison with the graveyard scene it is very much a complete picture: Again, there is Magwitch and Pip.
Later on, there are even soldiers and (of course) the only truly evil person in the story, Compeyson. Including him, we even find dead bodies under the surface! This again implies the importance of the graveyard, where the first scene of the book takes place. A scene that might soon be forgotten by both the reader and certainly (and deliberately, courtesy of Dickens) by Pip, but which actaully claims centre stage in the novel. Please notice that a graveyard, normally a place where it all ends, here serves as a place where it all begins.
Another location that mirrors a state of mind, is Mrs. Havisham’s house. it almost is a symbol for Mrs. Havisham herself.
The house is in much the same state as she is. It was once beautiful, but now delapidated, neglected and most of all, empty. A truly beautiful comparison in the book is the connection between Wemmick’s castle and Mr.
Jaggers’ office. The first encounter of Pip with Wemmick’s home is vividly described by Dickens. A witness of Dicken’s genius must certainly be the scene in which the employer and the employee, Mr.
Jaggers and Wemmick, are confronted with their own true natures. conclusion If there is one moralistic message conveyed in Great Expectations, then it is this: Class differences may seem important, but actually they are not. The basis of our personality is shaped when we grow up. It cannot be changed. However, we can learn.
We have to, as a matter of fact. We must learn how to deploy our talents and on the other hand, find a way to deal with our weaknesses.