In chapter 1, how does Dickens use setting to convey the mood right at the opening?"Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Charles Dickens uses the imagery of a bleak, unforgiving Nature in his exposition of "Great Expectations" to convey the mood of fear in Chapter 1.  The weather is described as "raw" and the graveyard a "bleak" place.  The "small bundle of shivers" is Pip himself, who is terrified by a "fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg."  He is a desperate man, with broken shoes,

smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head

as he grabs the orphan Pip.  For safety, Pip holds onto the tombstone of his parent.  In this cold, grey, desperate atmosphere Dickens introduces the main character and the convict who is later identified as Magwitch.  This motif of bleakness in the lives of the lower class is one that is prevalent in the writings of Charles Dickens.

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