In Chapter 4, of "Great Expectations" how was the suspense explained?

lit24 | Student

Dickens wrote and published all his novels in a serial form. So, in order to increase the sales of each instalment of his novel he would end each  instalment abruptly and thus create a suspenseful situation so that the readers would be tempted to buy the next instalment and satisfy their curiosity.

The end of Ch.4, "But I ran no further than the house door ......"Here you are, look sharp, come on!" is a typical instance of Dickens ending the instalment to whet the suspense and curiosity of his readers.

Pip has raided Mrs.Joe's pantry and given the food and a file to the convict Magwitch. Throughout the Christmas lunch he is guilty and frightened that he will be found out by his sister.  One choice item that he had stolen from the pantry was a pork pie and at the end of the Christmas dinner in Ch.4 when Mrs.Joe announces dramatically that she is going to serve the pie, Pip is terrified and rushes out of the house hoping to escape his sister's wrath. Just as he is about to step outdoors he is stopped by a soldier holding a pair of handcuffs. The instalment ends here. The next instalment Ch.5 would have been published only in the following week. Till then the contemporary readers would have imagined that Pip would have been arrested by the soldiers and sentenced to be hung - in Dickens' time, petty thieves for even the smallest crimes were summarily executed.

However, in Ch.5 we learn that the sergeant had come to meet Joe so that he could have the handcuffs repaired, before they set out to hunt down the criminals

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Great Expectations

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