Charles Dickens was born on February 7th 1812 in Portsmouth. He moved to London in 1822 aged 10. In 1836, he married Catherine Hogarth and they had 10 children. He was a great campaigner for social justice, and campaigned tirelessly against capital punishment and public hanging. He edited a monthly magazine, and serialized most of his novels. He wrote a Christmas story every year, including ‘A Christmas Carol’ in 1843. He died on June 9th, 1870. His most famous works include A Tale of Two Cities, the Pickwick Papers, Oliver Twist, and Great Expectations.
Great expectations is narrated by the character Pip, and opens with an in depth discussion of himself. The description that follows paints the scene and the situation that Pip is in. Dickens then writes about Pips encounter with the convict, terror and vulnerability are a large part of the chapter. The chapter closes with the convict and Pip each departing in their separate ways, Pip running home scared with his childish imagination showing itself, and the convict picking his way along the marshes.
The novel opens with a scene of violence and horrific threat, ‘”hold your noise! ” Cried a terrible voice’, the convict is heard firstly as a voice, so Pip thinks he could be anything, the convict reveals himself in stages, firstly as a voice, so Pip thinks he could be anything, the convict reveals himself in stages, firstly as a voice, then he slowly shows his body, ‘started up from among the graves’. The description that follows shows he is a ‘criminal’ with ‘no hat’, this is a typical stereotyped Victorian image of a convict, that he is fearful and unrespectable.
The description of the convict is full of repetition and uses the word ‘and’ a lot, this introduction to Magwitch has a buildup of powerful verbs, ‘soaked’, ‘smothered’, ‘lamed’, ‘cut’, ‘stung’, ‘torn’, ‘limped and shivered, ‘glared and growled’. The use of these shows that Dickens wanted to create a strong and powerful image in the readers mind, about the appearance of Magwitch. He writes ‘growled’ which is an animalistic comparison, and makes you think he is wild and violent.
The first physical attack the convict does to Pip is when he ‘seized’ Pip ‘by the chin’; he is using this so that Pip will be scared and intimidated by him. He stares at Pip ‘staring at me’, this intimidates Pip even more, and this is a good way of threatening Pip without actions. Magwitch uses dialect forms of words, ‘pint’, ‘wittles’, this shows he is from London. He would have had a harsh and rough life, full of crime. This makes him even more forbidding to Pip, as he thinks this rough upbringing will mean he will do lots of terrible things to Pip.
When he turns Pip upside down, he not only does this literally, but metaphorically aswell, ‘turned me upside down’, the convict is doing this to prove his strength and power that he has over Pip, little does he know that he has just turned Pip’s life around, and both their lives will be affected by this meeting. Magwitch is like an animal when he eats ‘ravenously’, he is very animalistic. Magwitch keeps trying to exert his power onto Pip all the way through, ‘so sudden and strong’ ‘threatening shake’, Magwitch is trying to make Pip scared with violent and sudden movements, he is very unpredictable.
Magwitch acts as though he is scared of nothing, but he is worried that he will be caught again, ‘he started, made a short run’, he is scared of being caught, and frightened of anyone seeing him. When Magwitch realizes Pips family is dead, his voice softens, ‘he muttered then, considering’, he feels slightly more sorry for Pip, and he starts changing his threats to ‘might’. He threatens Pip again ‘supposin’ you’re kindly let to live’, Magwitch uses empty threats in order to scare Pip’.
As soon as he realizes that pip lives with a blacksmith, he realizes a different was that he could use Pip, ‘looked down at his leg’; he is quick thinking, and quickly thinks of a new use for Pip. Magwitch keeps on exerting his power on Pip, ’tilted me back as far as he could hold me’, he tries to disorientate him, and make him feel dazed and confused. ‘Most powerfully down’, Magwitch wants to be in constant control, and uses his size and strength against Pip.
Magwitch keeps tilting Pip, ‘he tilted me again’, there is a repetition of this tilting, signifying that he will constantly keep turning Pip’s world around, and even though it may be far into the future, and Pip will think he has seen the last of Magwitch, he will come and turn Pip’s world around once more. Magwitch keeps showing signs of extreme violence, ‘your heart and your liver shall be tore out, roasted and ate’, Magwitch gives off an animalistic image.
Magwitch invents a tale that he is not alone, and if Pip disobeys him then his companion will come and kill and eat him, ‘a boy may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may tuck himself up, may draw the clothes over his head, may think himself comfortable and safe, but that young man will softly creep his way to him and tear him open. ‘ These threats will stay with Pip even when he gets home; Magwitch has manipulated Pip into doing exactly what he wants him to do.