What are some examples of figures of speech from the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens?

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the most famous repeated figures of speech is the reference to being "brought up by hand," as in Pip's narration from chapter 8 below:

I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand, gave her no right to bring me up by jerks.

This figure of speech means that Mrs. Joe beat Pip anytime he did something wrong so that he would be well-behaved. This is a symbol, as the book continues as abused is repeatedly doled out to Pip by Estella as he gets older, but this is more of a verbal and emotional abuse. Symbols are indeed a type of metaphor, so you could call it either and one phrase "by hand" represents another... abuse. You could also call it a euphemism because the phrase "by hand" is a much gentler term that saying the boy is beaten or hit or abused.

Another sentence from chapter 17 expresses several figures of speech worth analyzing:

So unchanging was the dull old house, the yellow light in the darkened room, the faded spectre in the chair by the dressing-table glass, that I felt as if the stopping of the clocks had stopped time in that mysterious place...

In the italicized portion of this quote describing Miss Havisham's bride room, we have parallel structure or parallelism which is the repetition of the same grammatical form. Each phrase separated by commas begins with the and then an adjective, and a noun, and a prepositional phrase.

In the bold portion, the contents of a simile exist but there is also paradox present in the idea of time stopping. Time is incapable of stopping.

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Great Expectations

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