Q. How does Dickens use language to set the scene and introduce us to the characters and themes in the opening chapter?
Great Expectations was written in the Victorian era, a time of extreme poverty and deprivation, and where large families were crowded into small insanitary housing. This was the backdrop to the novel written by Charles Dickens who was born in 1812 and married with ten children. The novel was published in weekly form, with a cliff-hanger at the end of each instalment. The opening chapter is scene is set in a church yard and Dickens uses dark, mysterious and intimidating language to set the scene and introduce us to the characters. In the opening chapter we are introduced to Pip who tells us that his father is dead along with his mother and that his sister is married to the blacksmith to whom he lives with. Pip has no memory of his parents and he can only imagine what they were like, as photographs did not exist. Dickens makes an effort to create consideration for Pip in the opening scenes “To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine. This tells us that Pip is an orphan and that he is lonely. Dickens uses his descriptive skills in setting the scene of the churchyard where Pip is. “Ours was marsh country,” “this bleak place overgrown with nettles was the churchyard “. Here Dickens is describing the churchyard as a dark place where nobody would want to live or be able to live and because of this it would be a lonely place much like Pip is a lonely person. In the opening chapter Pip shows his young naivety, “I looked all round for the horrible young man”, Pip believes the convict when he tells Pip there is someone else there even if this may not be true. Pip, although young, tries to disguise his fear; this is Dickens showing the reader that even though Pip is young he has the qualities to be the protagonist of...
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