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Assess the importance of Chapter One in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Essay Example

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The novel starts with Pip visiting the graveyard where his parents and five brothers have been buried. Great Expectations draws a lot from the experiences of Dickens and portrays his own life,…
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Assess the importance of Chapter One in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
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Download file to see previous pages Pip is an orphan who has had a good though sometimes rough upbringing by his sister Estella. The focus in the entire novel is on the family, which starts from the very first chapter as Pip spends his time in the graveyard amongst his family members. He has never seen his parents ‘for their days were long before the days of photographs’ (5; ch 1). This also creates the atmosphere that the novel was created in the early nineteenth century. With child-like innocence, he conjures the image of his parents (whom he had never seen) by carefully studying the lettering on the tomb.
The first chapter draws out the tension and creates the proper mood for the novel. ‘Ours was the marsh country (13; ch 1) denotes the depressing atmosphere in which Pip lives as a child. It symbolizes the uncertain and mysterious times in his life. This bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard (15-16; ch 1), the low leaden line beyond, was the river; the distant savage lair was the sea (19-21; ch 1)– add to the dreary scene. It also builds up a sense of dread that something fearful is about to happen. Soon after this Magwitch appears and threatens to cut Pip’s throat.
The repetition creates an atmosphere of subdued and miserable tension that besieged Pip’s life when he discovers in chapter 39 that his benefactor is none other than Magwitch, the escaped convict who he had met at the graveyard. This revelation is awful and it destroys the little peace that he had known.
The chapter further illustrates that no act of kindness ever goes unnoticed. He is frightened into helping an escaped convict called Magwitch. Pip returns bringing food and drink for Magwitch and this act of kindness has important consequences later in the novel. It was an act out of fear, as Pip was scared of Magwitch’s violent threats and because Magwitch made him promise, "Say ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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