How does Dickens use humor and pathos in Great Expectations? Please give a detailed explanation.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Charles Dickens uses humor and pathos both singly and together. Although the novel has many serious themes, Dickens makes the narrative more compelling through the constant interjection of humorous scenes, characters, and dialogue. The underlying emotional gravity of the novel is communicated through repeated use of pathos.

Dickens uses humor in the descriptions of many minor characters. Among these is the attorney Jaggers, with his exaggeratedly formal speech and manners. Jaggers’ many clients, current and former, also provide humor when Pip runs into these disreputable individuals on his visit to the courts. He is suitably impressed by their “testimonies to the popularity of my guardian….”

The author’s characterization of Miss Havisham evokes pathos in the initial description of her appearance and especially the abandoned wedding feast. The unsuspecting Pip arrives at her once-grand mansion, and when he enters, he is disturbed to behold the ruin and desolation—“so fine,...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 982 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team