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Analysis of Chapter One in Great Expectations Essay


Chapter one is set in a church graveyard where Pip is looking at his mother and fathers tombstones trying to imagine what they looked like as he never saw his mother nor father. The weather in this scene has been made to work with the environment, as in the film the trees are moving with the wind to create an eerie feeling although in the book there is no mentioning of this. This makes us feel anxious for Pip as he is in this eerie environment with an escaped convict, being told to do things for the convict. This is an example of pathetic fallacy because it is a human response to an inanimate (not alive) thing aka, the fear of the convict.

The mood of chapter one is very tense and dark as is shown in the use of the language Tell us your name! said the man. Quick!. Pip. Pip sir. This shows that there is high tension and shock for Pip as the convict bellows down on him. Over time the tension is built up as the convict asks for a file, food and drink for Pip to get for him one after the other. At one point Dickens makes it humorous for the audience as Pip gets lifted up and shaken by the convict, so that his personal affects fall out of his pockets, this slight moment of humour makes the reader feel that this is not a depressing novel.

The themes Gentlemen and respectability; Crime and punishment; Parents and children; Power and powerlessness are used in chapter one as (for Gentlemen and respectability), the convict (you dont know till later in the novel) is a well respected man in other countries and he has a great amount of money (this is the money he later on donates to Pip). But although he has this status in other countries, in England he is an escaped convict and he is on the run, this is implied in his tone and speed of his speech and to show that he is in need and not in a position to compromise himself he has little respect for Pip and instead demands/threatens him to get food, drink and a file. This also basically covers the next theme, Crime and punishment, as Magwitch is in need and not in a position to compromise himself he demands/threatens Pip to get food, drink and a file. He has gained this desperate position by committing a crime, and so this is his punishment. Parents and children is shown in chapter one when Pip is looking at his mother and fathers gravestones. Power and powerlessness is the main theme in chapter one, as Pip is powerless against the convict and the convict is in power.

Dickens finishes the chapter with Pip running from the graveyard back to his home and the convict walking to the horizon and what looks like a gibbet (hangman's pole).

The first chapter of Charles Dickens Great Expectations raises many questions for the readers as they wonder if Pip will make it back home or will the convicts partner catch him and do something? What happened to Pips parents? What is his sister and Joe like to Pip? Dickens will make the readers want to read on as he has left it at a slight cliffhanger and he has left space for the readers to fill the blanks with their imaginations before the next chapter is release.

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