What important literary devices are used in chapter 8 of Great Expectations?

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teachersage eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Important literary devices in chapter 8 include satire, shifting the narrative point of view and foreshadowing.

In the opening portion of the chapter, Pip stays with his Uncle Pumblechook. This section satirizes, or makes fun of, the way the shopkeepers, including Pumblechook watch other people work, rather than work themselves:

Mr. Pumblechook appeared to conduct his business by looking across the street at the saddler, who appeared to transact his business by keeping his eye on the coachmaker, who appeared to get on in life by putting his hands in his pockets and contemplating the baker, who in his turn folded his arms and stared at the grocer, who stood at his door and yawned at the chemist.

This section also satirizes the insensitivity of Uncle Pumblechook, who eats a fine breakfast himself while the hungry Pip is given a piece of bread with a tiny bit of milk. Pumblechook then quizzes Pip on math before he can even get a bite of food into his mouth. Dickens disliked the kind of petty cruelties that children were subjected to by people like Pumblechook:

I was hungry, but before I had swallowed a morsel, he began a running sum that lasted all through the breakfast. "Seven?" "And four?" "And eight?" "And six?" "And two?" "And ten?" And so on. And after each figure was disposed of, it was as much as I could do to get a bite or a sup, before the next came; while he sat at his ease guessing nothing, and eating bacon and hot roll, in (if I may be allowed the expression) a gorging and gormandizing manner.

At Miss Havisham's, Dickens is famous for moving back and forth between narrating the scene through the child Pip's eyes as he moves closer and closer to Miss Havisham and the older Pip's mature reflection on the scene. The younger Pip sees, "She had not quite finished dressing, for she had but one shoe on,—the other was on the table near her hand,—her veil was but half arranged, her watch and chain were not put on, and some lace for her bosom lay with those trinkets" while the adult Pip thinks back and writes, "It was not in the first few moments that I saw all these things, though I saw more of them in the first moments than might be supposed."

Finally, as Estella is called in to play cards with Pip, foreshadowing occurs: Miss Havisham tells Estella to break Pip's heart, and she also tells Estella to "beggar him" at cards. Estella will break Pip's heart and beggar him. 

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Great Expectations

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