Understanding the Plot of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Topics: Great Expectations, Fiction, Plot Pages: 5 (2215 words) Published: February 28, 2011
What is defined as the “plot” of a novel can be explained and broken-down in very specific steps, although the actual content of the plot within novel has infinite variations and possibilities. Plot regards the organization of the principle events of a work of fiction(Wikipedia). Plot is different from the storyline in that plot worries with how events are related, structured, and how they depict change in the major characters. The majority of plots will follow some process of change in which the main characters are caught up in a conflict that is eventually resolved. The plot of a novel can be broken down in five parts: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution (Wikipedia). The exposition usually occurs at the start of the story. Here is when the characters are first introduced and were we also learn about the setting of the story. Most importantly, we are first introduced to the main conflict of the story. Rising action is when the story begins to develop the conflicts, which in turn usually leads to the building of suspense or interest. The exposition and rising action are the two elements that build up the beginning of the story. The middle of the story is entirely devoted to climax. Climax is the turning point of the story, where the main characters usually come to face with a conflict which makes them in some way “change”. Falling action and resolution is what makes up the ending of the story. Falling action is the part of the story where all the loose ends of the plot are tied up and the conflicts and climax are taken care of. In conclusion, the resolution is when the story comes to a reasonable ending. Charles Dickens’s novel Great Expectations is an excellent example of how a well developed plot, and many subplots hidden within the main, can create many twists and turns and make what may seem like a ‘fairy tale’ story a much more interesting and complex one. The protagonist of the navel is a seven year old boy named Pip. Dickens decides to tell the story through the eyes of Pip in the first person narrative, in a chronological and linear order. We know then, that as Pip tells takes us through his story he has already lived it. Pip’s plot within the novel can be very well summarized using the five elements explained previously. At the start of the novel, the ‘exposition’, we are immediately introduced to some of the major characters such as Pip, Joe, and Abel Megwitch. We also learn that the story is initially set in the marsh country of Kent, somewhere close outside of London. Pip has been adopted by Joe and both share a beautiful and intimate relationship with each other. One day, as Pip was walking by the marshes he has an encounter with a convict by a graveyard close to the marshes. Pip is spooked by this man that we later know to be named ‘Megwitch’, and a result helps him by steeling food from his sister Mrs. Joe, whom is a grumpy women with ‘temper problems’(Plot Analysis). When Pip finally decides to tell Joe what he has done he is shocked at his behavior. Consequently, Pip feels very guilty and is scared about the memory of the escaped convict. The conflict originates when Pip finally meets Estella, a little girl, orphan like him, but that is raised by a rich women named Mrs. Havisham (Dickens). One day, Pip is invited to go ‘play’ at the house of Mrs. Havisham and her niece Estella. When he arrives, he is ignored, made fun of, and treated awfully by the two women. Despite Estella being very snobbish and treating him like garbage he falls deeply in love with her. She ridicules him in front of Mrs. Havisham by making fun of his ‘thick boots’ and ‘coarse hands’ (Dickens Chapter 8). Pip, all of a sudden, gets furious at Joe for not having raised him to be a more ‘gentle’ man. The complication embarks when out of the blue Pip becomes rich. Just when Pip had given up in becoming a gentleman and was training hard to become a blacksmith like Joe, he falls...

Cited: Dickens, Charles, and Graham Law. Great Expectations. Peterborough, Ont. [u.a.: Broadview, 1998.Print.
Dickens, Charles, and Graham Law. "Volume 1 Chatper VIII." Great Expectations. Peterborough, Ont. [u.a.: Broadview, 1998. 89-100. Print.
Dickens, Charles, and Graham Law. "Volume I Chapter IX." Great Expectations. Peterborough, Ont. [u.a.: Broadview, 1998. 100-07. Print.
"Plot Analysis Great Expectations." Shmoop: Study Guides & Teacher Resources. Shmoop. Web. 06 Oct. 2010. .
Wikipedia. "Plot (narrative)." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 06 Oct. 2010. .
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