How does Pip's first-person narration affect the story in Great Expectations?

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Michael Foster eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As in all stories told from the first-person point of view, the reader is limited by what the narrator sees and hears. In Pip, we see the events of his life unfold before him, as well as hearing his interpretation of them. We feel his fears and uncertainties without knowing if they are justified or not. We do not know what Magwitch means when he says he will remember the boy who was present at his arrest. It is not until Pip himself knows that Magwitch intends to be his benefactor if he ever gets the chance. The unfolding of the stories through the closing chapters reveals the back stories of the other characters, specifically Magwitch and Miss Havisham. He learns of the relationship between Magwitch and Estella only when he is told.

This method of story-telling lends an air of mystery, to be resolved only at the end. We can know how Pip as an adult thinks upon the events in his past as he reflects on them as an adult, but we cannot tell his future, especially in his future with Estella. Though limiting, the first-person point of view helps the reader to have a more personal experience in reading.

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Great Expectations

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