In the extract where Pip, a boy from a very humble background meets Miss Havisham, a rich but eccentric lady, Dickens wants the reader to feel sympathetic towards Pip. How does he make us feel this way? Charles Dickens as a child had experienced a lot of poverty and had lived in a time where social class and financial status affected an individual’s life in the sense that the way you were treated depended on your class and status. There was an easily distinguishable difference between the rich and poor in almost every aspect in life.
Dickens experiences are greatly reflected in Great Expectations which is set in Early Victorian England. Throughout extract two (Ms. Havisham) Dickens has used the fundamental skills of writing to create sympathy for Pip. Each skill is as important as the other in creating sympathy for Pip because they all play a part in generating this emotion of sympathy. This story is written in the voice of a first person and this is extremely vital because Pip is the narrator and protagonist.
This increases the Sympathy we have towards Pip because we are seeing it from his point of view as opposed to a third person’s point of view, which would be more balanced. Therefore, we do not get to see anyone else’s views beside Pip’s so our emotions are automatically in his favour. As soon as Pip enters Miss Havisham’s room he is overwhelmed by the eccentric environment and the unfamiliarity he has with such an atmosphere. The setting is used as the base on which Dickens builds sympathy for Pip. “I entered and therefore found myself in a pretty large room… or shall ever see”
As Pip is presented to us as a young boy, we feel even sorrier for him because he would be more vulnerable and it would be harder for him to cope with the strangeness of the room. “No glimpse of daylight” gives the room a gloomy sensation. “Had lost its lustre and was faded yellow” reflects the dullness and loss of happiness. “Had shrunk to skin and bone” create a sense of demise and lifelessness. The vocabulary used in these descriptions of the room provide a sad and dull setting, which once again makes us feel sympathy for Pip because a child would find it difficult to be in such a atmosphere.
The first time Pip speaks to Miss Havisham is when he replies to her question and we can tell straight away from his reply that he acknowledges that she is from the upper class. He therefore respects her and calls her “… ma’am”. He knows where he stands and is also aware of the fact that he is of a lower class; “Mr. Pumblechook’s boy, ma’am”. Miss Havisham has the ability to produce a sense of fear within Pip and cause him to be hesitant and nervous; “you are not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?
” The fear that has been created in Pip is reflected in his reply; “No”, which is monosyllabic and shows feeling of anxiety and nervousness. Nevertheless, Pip may be scared but he tries his best to tell Miss Havisham what she wants to hear; “what do I touch? ” “your heart”. Pip is then told By Miss Havisham to feed here fancy of seeing a child play. But Pip is greatly conscious of his class that he just stood there regardless if its consequence; “I felt myself so unequal to the performance that I stood looking at Miss Havisham in what I suppose she took a dogged manner”
The fact that Pip opens up about his feelings of his surroundings prove that he has never been exposed to so much wealth and weirdness before; “I am very sorry for you, and very sorry I can’t play just now… It’s so new here, and so strange, and so fine – and melancholy-” He however immediately regrets saying so much, not knowing what her reaction is going to be. “I stopped, feared I might say too much, or had already said it… ” He may be lucky in the sense that she didn’t seem aggravated by his remark, nonetheless she tells him to call Estella; who we suppose is her adopted daughter.