Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Hartwick College Essay

In this extract, we are shown insight into what Pips character has become, by reacquainting him with the convict Magwitch. In this second visit, we can see the contrast between Pips first encounter, and this more shocking scene – how Pips persona has changed from an innocent youth, to a selfish, egocentric ‘gentleman. ‘ Also, we are given the startling revelation of Pip’s true benefactor, in a cumulative peak of excitement enriched with Dickens unique writing style. Throughout the text, Pip’s manner towards others, his way of thinking and even his narrative voice transform to create two reasonably different characters. The extract pictures him as a selfish, pompous young man who shows great ingratitude towards Magwitch – asking â€Å"inhospitably enough† whether he would like to come in and pushing away a plea for affection, from one who has worked hard all his life merely to provide Pip with a great wealth, and an undemanding lifestyle. When Magwitch returns to greet his beneficiary, he is treated with less than minor courtesy. Pip’s younger character however appears far more innocent, showing respect and even compassion towards a convict, who threatens and oppresses him, glad that his stolen food is â€Å"enjoyed† by a complete stranger. This highlights a stark contrast between the Pip displayed in the extract, and Pips younger self. Indeed Dickens seems to point out the irony of such a title – at the point in time when society considers him ‘gentleman’ he is anything but gentle – instead he appears malicious and critical of his former friend Joe whose visit he awaits with â€Å"mortification. † The wealthy gentleman is now a moral shadow of the impoverished yet guiltless Pip we are introduced to at the beginning of the story. His simultaneous ascent to aristocracy and fall into selfish spendthrift, leading to his subsequent redemption, are reminiscent of the ‘education’ novel popular at the time. These tales of ‘apprenticeship’ were often of mistreated orphans who managed to become wealthy and successful. The stories featured the many obstacles that the hero/heroine would have to overcome, and their popularity peaked around Dickens time. Typically, they explore â€Å"the youth and young adulthood of a sensitive protagonist† who is â€Å"in search of the meaning of life and the nature of the world† (David Cody, Associate Professor of English, Hartwick College.) They tended to contain autobiographical elements, and were sometimes influenced by contemporary social and industrial transformations. There are also some other genres on which the story touches upon, namely the ‘sensation novel’ – the numerable plot twists and shocking revelations form a large part of the structure – in this extract we see the startling disclosure of Pips true benefactor, which most contemporaneous readers would perhaps not have guessed. Indeed, these climatic scenes are pivotal to the books success as a serialisation, as well as a novel. To maintain interest in a book that is staged in weekly instalments, Dickens uses a variety of sub-plots to keep the reader engrossed. This eccentric writing style gives the text a unique quality, and the overall effect on the reader is one of shock and intrigue. The rendezvous with the convict in the graveyard, and his death, Miss Havisham’s fire, and the showdown with Orlick are among the most memorable climax’s we experience – as well as Pips second meeting with Magwitch. In this passage, we can see how the writer cultivates tension and makes the most of Magwitch’s secret. When extract reaches a pinnacle of excitement, many sentences become long and drawn out, and sentence complexity increases, leaving the shorter, snappier â€Å"why, Wemmick† and â€Å"would it be J? † to further promote interest in the plot, and give a tense, nervous atmosphere. As the scene draws to its zenith, as Pip’s â€Å"heart (beats) like a heavy hammer of disordered action,† we see powerful metaphors, and repetition of prominent, emotive language (â€Å"dangers, disgraces, consequences†) to give a sense of anxiety and intensify the scene. Language is also used here to alienate the convict from Pip himself. The rich, throaty slang of Magwitch’s â€Å"arterwards,† â€Å"spec’lated† and â€Å"warmint† contrasts against Pip’s more noble speeches of how he â€Å"cannot wish to renew that chance intercourse† and inquires of the messenger â€Å"since he undertook that trust. † The way Dickens estranges Magwitch from Pip is significant: it symbolizes the delusional notion that Pip is a gentleman, and that he is superior to the convict. Pip believes himself to be changed since that first chance meeting in the graveyard, and thinks that he is now above Magwitch, who is after all a criminal. The irony experienced by the reader is that Pip’s great wealth and upper class lifestyle is solely attributable to Magwitch himself, and this too is the source of the shock Pip describes. The way Dickens depicts Pips feelings is extremely powerful, as we see Pip â€Å"suffocating† merely from the shock of this news, news that his almost successful attempt to become a gentleman was funded by the dark relic of his youth, who’s felonious past appears further from gentry as is possible. This is of course, not the first time we see Pip’s character interrupted by members of his childhood – there was his meeting with Mr Pocket on his arrival to London, and more important, Joe’s visit to Pip in his London flat. This meeting, like the one with Magwitch we see in the extract, stresses the change we have seen in Pip’s character by comparing his manner towards someone he knew as a boy, and how he acts towards them now. Upon his visit, Joe is not treated with hostility as such, but Pip denotes that he â€Å"certainly would have paid money† to keep him from coming. As a boy, Pip always stayed friends with Joe despite his obvious stupidity and clumsiness, yet now he wishes more than anything to avoid him. Pips dismissal of Joe in this way turns the reader against him slightly – up until now we have supported Pip as the ‘good guy. ‘ Pips corruption from an innocent youngster to a snide gentleman, and then back into a more honourable businessman. This cycle of purity, corruption and redemption is an ongoing theme in Great Expectations, and makes subtle references to Christian beliefs of how the life of greed and sin that Pip lived in London, on the wealth of a convict, lead to a corroded innocence that was only liberated through his consequent illness and then his new beginning with Estella. The other theme that appears in the novel, is that of justice and the just punishment of crime. We first see this in the appearance of a convict (though this method of punishment was stopped in 1868 several years after the novel was written) and Dickens portrayal of him as an honest man, who admits to the theft of â€Å"some broken wittles† and â€Å"a dram of liquor† to save Pip from his sister, Mrs Joe. And again, Mrs Joe herself ties in to the punishment theme, her harsh disciplining of her husband and brother again lets us sympathise with those who are chastised, and not the chastisers. Later in the book, we see another example of this when Magwitch is caught. And more subtle instances of punishment such as Mrs Havisham burning for her corruption of Estella (corruption almost being a theme in itself) are also present in the text, giving us a thorough impression of how those who commit crime will always be brought to justice. The time setting of the novel allows Dickens to include these ideas of corporal punishment, convicts and public hangings. To a modern reader, these archaic, brutal methods of upholding the law appear old-fashioned. However, readers of the time would most probably have experienced these events fist-hand, in one way or another. Moral preaching’s of more passive action towards prisoners and criminals would be relatively new to them, whereas nowadays such views are accepted as standard. The feelings created by the views Dickens has on delinquency, and its retribution, are therefore significantly different between readers of-the-time and present day students. As a modern audience, we also feel compelled, excited, and fascinated by the books intricate plotlines, particularly in this extract. To inspire such strong emotions, Dickens uses many lingual and structural functions, the aforementioned effectiveness of metaphors and imagery to name one. He also writes in the 1st person, which is pivotal to the feelings the book creates: the story is far more personal and involving. Dickens also entwines his plots and subplots very carefully to create a prominent air of tension. As he builds up to the climax of one plot twist, he continues to insert little mini-dramas that leave us waiting for the main storyline to continue. He does this quite often in the novel, and it makes the reading most tense and far less predictable. To a less observant reader, Magwitch’s return would be a complete surprise – this is where the majority of this extract’s attraction lies. Overall, this extract is in fact one of the most outstanding scenes in the book. The build up of excitement before the final revelation of â€Å"Pip – your him! † is done with a variety of complex, literary devices, and the twist in the plot and return of a familiar character add to its success. It calls attention to Pip’s new assumed role, as a self-centred ungrateful gentleman, and is characteristic of Dickens writing style.

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