Essay on Pip's Shadow Parents in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

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Pip's Shadow Parents in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations

Both Miss Havisham and Magwitch are powerful influences on Pip's life, in a psychological, and to some extent physical, manner. In this essay, I hope to explore these influences, and investigate what affects they have on Pip's development. Naturally, the fact that Pip is an orphan, and never knew his parents, means there is space for characters to come in and exact a definite, parental control. The novel echoes many of Dickens's own life experiences- he had a strained relationship with his parents when they were condemned to imprisonment for debt difficulties. The sense of abandonment and sudden awareness of the fragility of class
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Pip's guilty fears, his concern for the convict and the convict's own self-pity and anger are all well conveyed in this manner. By comparing the click in the convict's throat to the internal workings of a clock-"Something clicked in his throat as if he had works in him like a clock, and was going to strike"-Dickens is employing an apt simile that enables us to understand the complexity of the convict's emotions, which are accurately noted by Pip as an observant child but could not be fully understood by him at that time. Pip's natural generosity for the ravenous outcast is the beginning of a bond that will shape the plot. He provides the file that frees the convict, but this act will prove to bind Pip to Magwitch forever.

Psychologically, it can be difficult to pin down the exact influence Magwitch has on Pip throughout the novel, although we can conclude that it is meaningful. In a physical sense, the convict seems to mirror the marshes' fear-provoking aspects in many ways, "A fearful man, all in coarse grey… A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud…" The colours of Magwitch's reflect the bleakness of the surroundings, and the way he has been "soaked in water" and "smothered in mud" emphasise how he appears to erupt violently from the marsh and be part of it. Both Magwitch and the marshes seem to terrify Pip, who admits to

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