Miss Havisham - Sample Essay

Write a critical analysis concentrating upon how a sense of expectation is created and how the style of the passage and the themes and issues touched upon here are representative of the novel as a whole Anticipation is created very early at the beginning of the passage when Pip comments that ‘not another word had I heard to enlighten me on the subject of my expectations. ‘ We are instantly reminded of the mystery of Pip’s benefactor and that the following passage may divulge the patron’s identity. Therefore, already an air of expectancy is created.

First and foremost is the use of the first person narrator – a common and accepted format of realism in the 19th century. Unusually, our narrator is an older wiser Pip looking back at events, and is judgmental over his actions that he recounts, due to hindsight. (As a result of this, our sympathies are directed evenly between Magwitch and Pip). Immediately we realise that the narrator is very important as everything he points out in his narration is for a definite reason or effect because he knows the outcome and is leading the reader up to it in such a way as to draw out the underlying theme.

In this passage we see the narrator creating suspense with a dark brooding almost supernatural atmosphere, hence heightening our perceptions as we realise that a major revelation is about to happen. Another aspect of first person narration in ‘Great Expectations’ is that the reader becomes more intimate with the character and therefore sensitive to his thoughts and feeling. Any disclosures are therefore more dramatic allowing us to understand the full impact of them and become more involved in the story.

The narration starts off with the use of past tense, this immediately creates a sense of activity as though events and circumstances proceeding are about to change: ‘ Not another word had I heard’ and ‘ My twenty-third birthday was a week gone’. These also give a sense of time slipping away in the subconscious anticipation of something about to happen. Throughout the book we see that circumstances have conspired against Pip for it to appear that Miss Havisham is his benefactor.

In this extract of the book we also assume along with Pip that Miss Havisham is responsible for his great expectations, hence the only person who knows the truth here, is the narrator. This is used to great execution as we are placed in the same mind as the young Pip, yet see his feelings mixed with innuendoes made by the older Pip of what is about to happen. In the second paragraph we are in effect given a summary of events that has happened up to the present time.

This creates the effect that the story is being wrapped up in preparation for full concentration on something new: ‘the matter of Herbert’s was still progressing, and everything with me was as I have brought it down to the close of the last proceeding chapter. ‘ This in itself is an ominous gesture. Likewise, the paragraph leading up to where Pip hears a footstep on the stair clearly emphasises that moment. The time is referred to constantly; ‘close my book at eleven’, ‘Saint Paul’s and all the many church-clocks…. struck that hour’.

The use of ‘that hour’ suggests something momentous and fateful happened. Yet the narrator remarks that the sound is ‘flawed’ by the wind, mirroring how his expectations are also about to be ‘flawed’. The paragraph ends dramatically using a cliff-hanger effect with ‘I heard a footstep on the stair’, which is heightened due to the building gloomy atmosphere, proceeding it. Naturally, this sudden entrance of a mysterious person is certain to prick our curiosity further. In this passage we see Dickens’s typical use of repetition, for example in ‘I was alone, and had a dull sense of being alone’.