‘ This suggests to me that he’s trying, desperately to get a specific piece of information to Sikes, to manipulate him into killing Nancy because he knows what Sikes’ reaction would be. When Sikes learns of what Nancy did he explodes with the words ‘Hell’s fire! ‘, this exclamatory phrase suggests to us that he very aggressive. The use of words ‘hell’s fire’, and ‘Devil’, gives reference to Hell where the damned are punished and suggests that he will be damned for his actions. He then acts very aggressively we know this because aggressive words are uses such as ‘flinging’, ‘rushed’, ‘darted’; ‘dashed’, ‘furiously’.
These words are often associated with Sikes’ and suggest that he has an aggressive character. Sikes warns Fagin he is ‘not safe’, this suggests that Sikes knows he has an uncontrollable temper, Fagin knows this because he prepares himself to let Sikes out. After Bill leaves we see that he has tunnel vision because he never turns, this suggests that he is resolute in his decision of murder. He is described as possessing ‘savage resolution’, this evokes an idea that he is determined to carry out his evil deed. The word ‘savage’ has been used before to describe Sikes; this is because it makes Sikes look more inhuman.
During the walk Nancy, we see that Dickens has used short phrases and sentences; this is to quicken pace, create tension and build up suspense. Sikes has a ‘strained jaw’ this shows his anger and makes him seem inhuman and animalistic. When entering the house he is very calculating and deliberate because he carries out his actions ‘lightly’ and ‘softly’ this is totally out of Sikes’ character, he also double locks the door and places a ‘heavy table against it’, this further supports the idea that all his actions are deliberate and calculating. This premeditated nature of the murder really shocks the reader.
When he rouses Nancy from her sleep, he commands her ‘Get up! ‘, this is brief and brutal and evokes a sense that he owns her. He repeats this command and this tells us that there is nothing more to be said from Sikes. Nancy’s response is pitifully, sad because she says ‘It is you, Bill! ‘, ‘with an expression of pleasure at his return’. This is ironic because she is please to see him, and she doesn’t know that he is about to kill her, it also creates a sense of pathos, for the reader. When the murder starts to take place, the pace is slow, for Sikes says “Let it be”; in a low voice’.
Suddenly the violence explodes, volcanic in intensity with Sikes having ‘dilated nostrils’ and ‘heaving breast’ and dragging her and ‘grasping her by the head and throat’; this shows his wickedness in full force and again makes him seem inhuman and animalistic. Nancy pleads to Sikes with reference to ‘God’, and the ‘soul’. This shows that her plea is rather like a prayer, and this adds to the drama and contrasts with the hellish actions of Sikes. Nancy says ‘save yourself’, this evokes that she loves Sikes so much that she fears his life before hers.
Nancy’s diction is positive with use of words such as ‘better; repent; solitude, peace’. This contrasts with Sikes because his diction is negative, words such as ‘grasped’ ‘force’ ‘flashed’ ‘beat’ ‘fired’ are used when describing him. The murder ends with Nancy pleading ‘for mercy to her maker’ and with Sikes looking away as he smashes a heavy club to strike her down. This suggests that even Sikes cannot look at his own sins. Overall I can say that Sikes is characterised by Dickens as pure evil, murderous, menacing and aggressive.
He is deeply unhappy, the product of bad environment, intimating, calculating and a villain, with no humanity. Magwitch of ‘Great Expectations is another of Dickens’ villains. When we first meet Pip, we see a similar environment to that which belongs to Sikes. It is bleak and dreary. We get an impression ‘from adjectives such as ‘raw’ and ‘savage’. The environment is described as being a ‘bleak place overgrown with nettles’; a ‘dark flat wilderness’; with a ‘low leaden line’; and a sea describes as a ‘savage lair’. These are all negative, in terms of atmosphere.
However this is different to Sikes because it is written in the first person narrative, this helps the reader empathise with Pip easily, because it is more vivid and personal. This setting is used to create a dramatic atmosphere, which would also be found frightening by a young boy such as Pip. After the dramatic description we meet Magwitch. Our first description of him is aural. We don’t see him we only hear him. This disorientates and surprises Pip and the reader. His voice is described as a ‘terrible voice’ and he ‘started up from among the graves’. This confuses the reader because someone cannot ‘start up’ from the graves.
His first words are vicious and violent he threatens to ‘cut your throat’ to Pip. In our first visual description of Magwitch we see that he is a frightful man through the eyes of Pip, the narrator, we know this because he is described as a ‘fearful man’. This is supported further with a list of features belonging to Magwitch. This is a layered approach and creates an exceedingly strong visual image. Vigorous verbs, alliteration and onomatopoeia are all used in the description of Magwitch, such as ‘limped’, ‘shivered’, ‘soaked’, ‘cut’, ‘glared’, ‘growled’, ‘chattered’, ‘stung’, ‘seized’ and ‘lamed’.
These all suggest a very coarse sort image to Magwitch and further supports that Magwitch was a frightful man. However to an objective reader, who would not prejudge Magwitch, there would be more pathos, surrounding the description. We can see that Magwitch is an escaped convict from the ‘great iron on his leg’; however he was imprisoned for a petty crime and the social climate at the time gave harsh punishments for less serious crimes. Therefore we can say that Dickens was a critique of the judiciary system of the time.
From this we can see that Sikes and Magwitch are both criminals, both are feared and both sinister and evil looking, however Sikes is pure evil, while Magwitch is not an evil criminal in today’s society and is actually a good man because he eventually helps Pip later on in life. Magwitch speaks to Pip with heavy dialect for he says ‘darn me… ‘. He also threatens to cannibalise Pip, much like a stereotypical children’s villain. This terrifies Pip into doing his bidding, though he would never carryout his threats unlike Bill Sikes.
Magwitch further petrifies the timid Pip with a series of threats of Murder with threats such as ‘supposin’ you’re kindly let to live, which I han’t made up my mind about? ‘ and the question being whether you’re to be let to live’ and threats of cannibalism such as ‘your heart and liver shall be tore out’ and ‘The young man has a secret way pecooliar to himself, of getting at a boy’. It petrifies Pip but it is highly unlikely he will carry out his threats. Therefore I can say that both Magwitch and Sikes threaten people and are both violent and aggressive, however Magwitch doesn’t carry out his threats, while Sikes does.
When Magwitch leaves Pip the sky is described as a ‘row of long angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed’, this suggests a very frightening atmosphere. Also Magwitch is described as a ‘pirate’ who would obviously be part of a young boys dreams. Therefore I think the last description reflects the feelings and emotions of a very frightened young Pip. ?? ?? ?? ?? Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Great Expectations section.