How does Dickens create the reader's response in Chapter 8 of "Great Expectations"?

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tsjoseph eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dickens manipulates the reader's response in a number of ways in Chapter 8.  The primary way he does this is through his word choice, or diction.

In order to set the mood for this all important meeting between Pip, Miss Havisham, and Estella, Dickens utilizes imagery of death and decay.  Miss Havisham is "withered" and her eyes are "sunken."  She is connected to Pip's memory of a "ghastly waxwork" and corpse: "Now, waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me. I should have cried out, if I could."  These and similar details contribute to the sense of horror that surrounds Satis House.

Dickens also works on characterization in this chapter, molding the reader's response to the various personalities introduced here.  We are frightened, repulsed, and mystified by Miss Havisham (Why is the clock stopped?  Why is she wearing a disintegrating dress?).  We are maddened by the superior airs of Mr. Pumblechook and Estella.  And, since we undertake this jouney with Pip, we are sympathetic to his complex reactions.  Poor Pip is simultaneously ashamed, scared, proud, and shy.  Dickens carefully crafts Pip's responses to the strange events in Chapter 8, and thus continues to build a complex character with whom the reader can relate.


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Great Expectations

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