Great Expectations: How does Dickens create characters that are both memorable and striking? Essay

In order to answer the question, ‘How does Dickens create characters that are both memorable and striking? ‘ I will have to know what the words memorable and striking actually mean. The definition of the word ‘memorable’ is something that stays in your mind because of a feature that is distinctive. The definition of the word ‘striking’ is something that stands out because of distinguishing or unique characteristics. I am going to look at three characters from ‘great expectations’ in order to answer this question. The first character that I am going to look at is Magwitch.

Magwitch is a very memorable character as he has very scary features. His eyes are very prominent and obvious. He also has a horrific scar across the left side of his face. This scar shows that he has maybe been in fights of even punished severely for an extreme case of breaking the law, murder maybe.

Magwitch is presented in a much scarier way because of the scene he is first viewed in. He is seen in a graveyard, in wind and rain with no-one around for miles. Using the graveyard as the setting brings a dark, gloomy atmosphere to the scene. People associate graveyards with death and maybe monsters.Therefore, when a lone figure enters the scene with chilling features the viewers may feel nervous and suspicious of whom this character may be.

The wind and rain help emphasize and contribute to the cold atmosphere of the graveyard. He has a great iron ball on his foot and is dressed all in grey which suggests to the reader that he is an escaped convict, because of this, he is a striking character. This may make the readers nervous and anxious. What was he imprisoned for? And how did he escape? The fact he has a chain around his ankle suggests he is a dangerous convict and this will or should prevent escape.However, in this circumstance it hasn’t.

Not only will the readers be asking questions about what he was imprisoned for and how he escaped but also why? Is he after some sort of revenge? This helps deepen the atmosphere further. Being all alone in a graveyard makes him a striking character. Grey against the dark shadows of the graveyard make Magwitch stand out. Also the way he speaks; in short sentences suggesting aggressiveness and possibly a lack of education. In addition, it also suggests that he has been out of society for a long time and not had the need to communicate with higher classes of people.Every time he talks, he talks in an awfully threatening and rude way, as though talking to a victim.

How he behaves is also quite impolite and intimidating, suggesting a lack of manners. Although seeming all alone on this gloomy day, pip walks into Magwitch’s view. Walking over to pip, Magwitch intensifies the atmosphere, like a bully walking to his victim.

Picking Pip up by his feet and shaking him helps paint a clear picture in the viewers mind of the bully Magwitch is. Adding to this he steals what falls out of his pockets.The viewers may feel sorry for Pip, however this helps Charles Dickens construct a very memorable and striking character. The next character that I am going to look at is Mrs. Havisham.

She is also memorable and striking in some of the same ways as Magwitch. She is rich which, at the time this was written was an important addition. As it was a poor mans book, however in the film it is a different matter. Although she will have been held very highly in the thoughts of the readers, in the film she will not. Today there are many rich people, but not portrayed like this. Mrs. Havisham is first seen in a gloomy, dark and scary place.

Her appearance is creepy and some what disturbing. A rich woman, in the viewers mind is nothing like Mrs. Havisham, as she hasn’t changed her clothes or even cleaned her house for many years.

It’s not only quite repulsive, as her wedding dress which is meant to be white, is now going yellow but it is also ghastly that she is living her own excretion. Her exterior is a reflection of her living conditions. This also portrays her broken heart, after being jilted at the alter on her wedding day.

She is striking as there are not many people like this in the world; and she is very unique however disgusting she is.


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