Language, Form and Structure

Language, Form and Structure

Narration- The novel is told in the first person by Pip the protagonist of the story. He is looking back with hindsight and often interrupts the story to explain the emotions he feels about how he behaved in certain situations.

Pip’s relationship with the reader– Pip mainly tells the story in the order it happened so that the reader understands as much as Pip did at each point in the story. At many points in the story this causes tension. When Pip notices something or discovers something, the reader is essentially given a clue, which makes us want to read on in the same way it drives the action in the story to continue.

One example of this is when Pip notices that Molly looks familiar. He doesn’t know who she reminds him of so he wracks his brain to remember in the same way that the reader continues reading to try and find out. Thus the reader has a parallel experience with the protagonist.

Character- Charles Dickens is famous for his memorable characters. In Great Expectations the character we know best is Pip because he tells us what he thinks and feels and gives his perspective on events. The other characters are vividly described and it is through their appearance, in many cases, that we form an impression of them.

Magwitch is first introduced as someone Pip fears with ‘a great iron on his leg’. He is identifiable as a criminal and the greatness of the iron seems to reflect the greatness of the fear and the crimes he has committed. However, at the end of the novel he is a ‘wounded, shackled creature,’ the same irons making him seem pathetic and degraded, not even a man but a creature. Thus we can see that the way that one aspect of Magwitch is described tells us a lot about Pip’s impression of him and how it has changed since the beginning of the novel.