Great Expectations Tension Analysis

1049 Words5 Pages
“How Dickens portrays atmosphere of tension in the opening scene of novel Great Expectations"

‘Great Expectations’, Charles Dicken’s thirteenth novel was written in 1860, and first published in weekly installments in ‘All the year round’ from December, 1860 until August, 1861. Throughout the novel, Dickens creates a mood of rising tension through the dark images of the gothic setting, mirroring both the period and his personal experience. This is continued by the contrast between the two main characters; Pip and Magwitch.

Pip, first appears in the graveyard place, where the “dead are buried” within the “dark flat wilderness”: this is not a good place for a little child to spent his time on, especially in the evening. However, compared
…show more content…
He now creates another type of tension by making the reader also feel sympathy for Magwitch. Magwitch, is portrayed as a ‘wild animal’ that has come from the sea, again, “the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing” showing the “raw” nature of Magwitch, contrasting with the image of Pip, Also not only the character itself, he created rising tension by setting up how he appears. Magwitch, “crying” in a “terrible voice” as “started up from among the graves”, indicating sudden image of unknown and supernatural creature, which “among the graves” suggests, bringing the dead to life. The appearance of Magwitch, increases the threatening and mysterious mood, “A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg... an old rag tied round his head” and who had been “soaked in water, and smothered in mud and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles and torn by briars”. By indicating the things that have hurt him, it makes the reader feel sorry for Magwitch, leading to the further tension, feeling sympathy for two conflicting characters. Also the fact that only the “old rag” is placed on his head, “a man with no hat” suggests the fact that the man is not a gentleman, which “great iron” underscoring that it is hard to wish mercy, letting pip go freely. Also the strength of…show more content…
By highlighting the fact that Pip is an orphan, Dickens portrays Pip’s isolation. However, Magwitch is the opposite of Pip, he represents evil and death. Therefore, this two opposite nature suggests that it will effect on each other, just like “the church jumped over its own weather clock”.
After meeting of two characters, focus of Dickens expands, the overview of the graveyard,, suggesting idea of hope for the character of Pip, church and village. Along with church, the place where Pip first appear, graveyard suggest idea of ‘death’ which character of Magwitch represents. However, by safely running away from Magwitch, it somehow suggests Pip getting away from death, which his other members of his family were not able to manage. The changed background, the road to home, emphasis dark and “bleak” mood, “a gibbet with some chains hanging to it which had once held a pirate”. By “gibbet” reader somewhat suggest graveyard is safer, where Magwitch is, rather than where dead are not buried, dead and left. Also, “as if he were the pirate come to life” indicates that Magwitch is supernatural, “started up among the graves” or soon he will be another “pirate” being held on a “gibbet” or purge away his

More about Great Expectations Tension Analysis

Open Document