The use of pathetic fallacy is an old poetic practice of associating human reponses or feelings to nature; in fact, this literary technique is not dissimilar to personification which gives to inanimate objects and animals the qualities of people. In Chapter I of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, there are both overt and suggestive instances of pathetic fallacy and personification:
- When Pip looks at the tombstone of his parents, he learns "on the authority of his [father's] tombstone" that Pirrip is his "family name," or last name. Here the tombstone has a human quality of authority.
- Pip refers to the sea as a "distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing."
- In describing the convict, Pip gives nature human qualities. For instance, the mud has "smothered" him; he has been "cut" by flints.
- There is a suggestion of pathetic fallacy in the way in which the grey convict matches the foggy marshes that also shiver is grey.
- The convict's way of holding, tilting, and shaking Pip is much like the rolling sea:
After each question he tilted me over a little more, so as to give me a greater sense of helplessness and danger.
.....He tilted me again...He gave me a tremendous dip and roll.
Certainly, this first chapter establishes the mournful impressions of the foggy marshes which become the site of much of Pip's guilt througout the novel.