A Literary Analysis of Charles Dickens' Novel Great Expectations

Topics: First-person narrative, Character, Narrative Pages: 2 (671 words) Published: November 10, 2013
In the novel Great Expectations, the author Charles Dickens uses the first person narrative throughout the novel. The first person narrative is the main character, Pip. However, in this book the first person narrative comes in a retrospective form, with Pip looking back on his life. The retrospective point of view is key in this story for the reaction of the readers to the plot. In Great Expectations, the retrospective first person point of view makes the main character Pip unreliable, makes the reader uninterested, and perhaps gives away certain key elements too early. First, the first person-retrospect viewpoint makes the main character Pip unreliable. Because Pip is looking back on his life many years later, he cannot possible remember everything that happened. Therefore, a lot of details and direct quotes are completely made-up. Although the made-up details and quotes may capture the gist of what happened, they are not exact and may have been spiced up for the purpose of story telling. Also, because some of the book is from a childhood point of view, Pip loses some credibility. Children often over elaborate and stretch the truth. For example, in the beginning in the church graveyard Pip makes the convict sound like an actual inhumane monster.

A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg…who limped and shivered, and glared, and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head…(2)

In his eyes, that is what he saw; however, truthfully the escapee may have been somewhat frightening, but not to the extent Pip claims. The reader see Pip as an unreliable source because there is no possible way to memorize the specific details he gives us and childish nature of over elaborating gives an air of no credulity.

Next, the reader becomes uninterested with the novel because of the retrospective first person narrative. The reader can determine from the retrospective point of view that Pip is still alive and well after many years of hardship. Because...
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