Narrative Strategy in Great Expectations

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Great Expectations is Dickens’ most completely unified work of art, formally concentrated and related in its parts at every level of reading. Every detail of the plot, moreover, expresses some further aspect of the theme, and one that is necessary for its full apprehension of the reader. In the beginning of Dickens's Great Expectations we as readers are greeted with an unreliable narrator: a man remembering his life as a small boy, frightened of both strangers and his closest family. How are we to perceive the story he relates.

Here writing has an ideographic quality; it is pictorial rather than or in addition to phonetic writing. In the child’s eye, its calligraphic qualities release secrets which the printed world of books conceals. The letters of his parents’ names serve as visual cues and clues. Having told us that he lived in the pre-history of photography, Pip then proceeds to give us snapshots of his experience, constructing them out of the lines and patterns of the alphabetic characters that form their names.

In Great Expectations, Pip describes his surroundings with the wide-eyed fascination of any young boy: It was a rimy morning, and very damp. I had seen the damp lying on the outside of my little window, as if some goblin had been crying there all night, and using the window for a pocket-handkerchief. Now, I saw the damp lying on the bare hedges and spare grass, like a coarser sort of spiders' webs; hanging itself from twig to twig and blade to blade. On every rail and gate, wet lay clammy; and the marsh-mist was so thick, that the wooden finger on the post directing people to our village--a direction which they never accepted, for they never came there--was invisible to me until I was quite close under it. Then, as I looked up at it, while it dripped it seemed to my oppressed conscience like a phantom devoting me to the Hulks. (17) Pip's perceptions of his village are governed by youth and fear. The fear lying in the runaway prisoners...
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