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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes
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Dickens handles the first-person narration skillfully. In some
scenes, especially when he's a boy, Pip relates his exact
feelings at the time, without any perspective. In other scenes,
especially when he's an adolescent, the sadder-but-wiser Pip,
who has already lived through all this, looks at his younger self
critically, and comments upon him. Pip is merely a bystander
in other scenes, so that we can eavesdrop with him on satiric
comedy (as with the Pocket family dinner in chapter 23) or
witness melodramatic passion (in various scenes with Miss
Havisham and Estella).

Dickens has to stick to Pip's view of the action. When he needs
to include events Pip couldn't have witnessed, he has other
characters narrate a scene or explain the facts. These additional
narrators add to the variety of tones in the novel; each one
speaks with a distinctive voice, from Biddy's low-key account
of Mrs. Joe's death (chapter 35) to Magwitch's action-packed
tale (chapter 42).

Readers have disagreed about how much of Dickens there is in
Pip. As you study different passages, consider whether Pip's
words simply show what he, the character, is like, or whether
you think Dickens is speaking to us through Pip.

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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens - Barron's Booknotes

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