What are some  literary devices used in the text with the quote, what the device is, and an explanation for the device itself.Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Brillantly written, Charles Dickens's Great Expectations is replete with literary techniques:

1.  parallelism - Notice how the sentences in this paragraph from Chapter 1 are similar in structure:

A fearful man, all in coarse grey, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; who limped, and shivered, and glared and growled; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin.

2. imagery In the above passage, there is also much sensory language, or imagery. Imagery of crime and criminal justice pervade the novel. Miss Havisham's house, for example, is like a prison as is Mr. Jaggers dark office.

3. simile In Chapter 3, Pip describes his return to the Battery where he cannot keep his feet warm, comparing the cold to the iron using as,

...the damp cold seemed riveted as the iron was riveted to the leg of the man I was running to meet.

4. metaphor In an unstated comparison, Pip calls Uncle Pumblechook "an abject hypocrite," and "the basest of swindlers" (Ch. 13)

5.doppelgangers, or doubles. Magwitch and Compeyson appear in the novel together several times. Magwitch is of the streets; Compeyson, upper class. In Chapter 3 Pip says

...this man was dressed in coarse gray, too, and had a great iron on his leg, and was lame, and hoarse, and cold, and was everything that the other man was

Likewise, Mrs. Joe and Miss Havisham are two women who are seemingly tied to their houses, they treat Pip cruelly, and become invalids.

6. fairy tale structure Pip begins as a poor boy and is aided by an odd fair godmother who seemingly elevates Pip to status of gentleman.

7. Biblical allusions Pip is a prodigal son, who leaves home, rejecting all that is connected to it.  Once, however, he is financially ruined and desolate, he returns home, begging  forgiveness of his father-figure, Joe Gargery

8. symbols The leg-iron of the convict is alluded to several times, and it symbolizes Pip's feelings of guilt.  For instance, after his sister dies and Pip returns to the forge, the filed off leg-iron of the old convict is found and suspected of being the murder weapon, increasing Pip's feelings of guilt. (Ch.16).

9. satire Chapters 22 and 23 contain descriptions of Mrs. Pocket, a silly woman who aspires to become an aristocrat. She sits engrossed in a book about titles while her children dangerously spill about her:

whenever any of the children strayed near Mrs. Pocket in their play, they always tripped themselves up and tumbled over her—always very much to her momentary astonishment, and their own more enduring lamentation..... until by-and-bye Millers came down with the Baby, which baby was handed to Flopson, which Flopson was handing it to Mrs. Pocket, when she too went fairly head foremost over Mrs. Pocket, baby and all, and was caught by Herbert and myself. (22)

10. comic relief and comic irony The pompous Uncle Pumblechook chokes giving his Christmas speech because Pip put tar water to replace the wine (Ch.4).  In Ch. 23 Dickens describes the Pockets with comic tones while commenting on the pitiable state of Mr. Pocket:

Still, Mrs. Pocket was in general the object of a queer sort of respectful pity, because she had not married a title; while Mr. Pocket was the object of a queer sort of forgiving reproach, because he had never got one.

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Great Expectations

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