How Charles Dickens Presents Characters in Chapters 1 and 8 of ‘Great Expectations’


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The novel ‘Great Expectations’ was written in 1861 by Charles Dickens and it was published in instalments, as were many of Charles Dickens’ novels. Great Expectations is the captivating story about the life of a young man called Pip, and his transition from a trainee blacksmith to a fine gentleman. This story contains everything from love and life, to heartbreak and death. The story is written in the first person so we learn about Pip’s life through Pip’s perspective. Pip’s real name is Phillip Pirrip, but he calls himself Pip, as do all of the other fascinating characters in the novel.


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In chapter eight of the story, called “Play Begins”, Pip visits Satis House for the first time and meets Estella and Miss Havisham for the very first time. Ironically Satis House means Enough House, the owner of this house will have everything they want, and they could want nothing else. This is not the case with Miss Havisham, and at points in the story it is not true for Estella either. Although Charles Dickens is writing the story in the first person, it is written almost as an account by Pip, where he is older. You can tell this by many of the words that he uses.


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She is a very commanding woman, and whenever she says anything to Pip or Estella they both respond quickly without questioning her requests too much, no matter how bizarre they are. This could be out of politeness towards Miss Havisham, or fear of her. Over the course of the story the reader sees Pip growing up, and identifies with him, through many tough and dangerous times, both emotionally and physically. By the end of the story everybody Pip was close to has died except for Estella, and this leads the reader to believe that he will treat her like the queen he thought she was when he was younger. The reader finds it easy to sympathise with Pip, and there is great empathy for him because he is such a polite, amusing, quick-thinking character.


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