Compare and contrast the presentation of Pip, Magwitch, Miss Havisham and Estella in the opening chapters of ‘Great Expectations’. Explain which characters you feel sympathy for and why?
‘Great Expectations’ written by Charles Dickens is a classic Victorian novel and is often regarded as the author’s finest achievement. However it was originally written as a series with each chapter appearing in a newspaper which has an affect on the whole structure. The end of each chapter must be exciting to make the reader read the next edition. In the novel, Dickens manages to express his criticisms of Victorian society, most probably due to his own experiences as a child.
In ‘Great Expectations’ sympathy is a key emotion and theme felt by the reader and some of the characters. Dickens manages to make the reader sympathise towards the four main characters; Pip, Magwitch, Estella and Miss Havisham despite their different ages, gender, characteristics and social status.
In the opening chapter we are introduced to Pip, a lonely orphan, and Magwitch an escaped convict. Magwitch threatens Pip into stealing some food for him as well as a file to get rid of the ‘irons’ on his legs. These two characters are complete contradictions of each other with Pip being described a ‘small bundle of shivers’ while Magwitch is described with animal like characteristics. We can easily understand that Magwitch is dangerous because he has ‘irons’ on his legs, suggesting that he is an escaped convict. At this point the audience will feel sympathetic towards Pip and angrier towards Magwitch because he threatens the innocent and misfortuned Pip.
The opening chapter portrays Pip as; innocent, lonely, vulnerable and scared. He is described as a ‘trembling’ ‘bundle of shivers’ and on a few occasions his speech falters due to his fear of...