Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Frozen Time

"It was then I began to understand that everything in the room had stopped, like the watch and the clock, a long time ago." (pg. 58)

In this part of Great Expectations, Pip begins to notice that everything in Satis House (Havisham's manor) is “stopped." It seems to pick that everything is very static-- nothing has been moved, everything has a distinct layer of dust covering it. The house is described this way to show and symbolize that everything in Havisham's life is frozen. This point plays an important role in Dicken's novel. It foreshadows important information about Mrs. Havisham (her abandonment on her wedding day) and this information profoundly affects the lives of several characters in Great Expectations, most notably Pip and Estella.

Different Lives

“Pip, dear old chap, life is made of ever so many partings welded together, as I may say, and one man's a blacksmith, and one's a whitesmith, and one's a goldsmith, and one's a coppersmith. Diwisions among such must come, and must be met as they come.” (pg. 223)

In this important passage from Great Expectations, Joe explains to Pip that different people will always lead different lives; nothing works for everyone. Joe sharply contrasts his low-level societal status in life (as a blacksmith) with Pip's new high class and life (a "goldsmith"). Even though Joe is considered the lesser in his relationship with Pip, Dickens shows that Joe is really the wiser and more practiced in the ways of the world, as opposed to Pip, who is still very naive and doesn't truly understand the world.

Noah's Ark

"By the light of the torches, we saw the black Hulk lying out a little way from the mud of the shore, like a wicked Noah's Ark." (pg. 38)

In this sentence, Dickens compares the boat that Magwitch is taken away on to Noah’s Ark. This biblical allusion helps to subtly characterize Magwitch as a positive influence in Great Expectations. In the story of Noah’s Ark, God tells Noah to build an ark because there will soon be great flood. Noah puts two of each animal in the world on the ark so that when the flood is over, the world may begin anew. The ark symbolizes fresh beginnings, which pertains to Magwitch and his desire to start his life over. Dicken's characterization of Magwitch is very Christ-like not only in Magwitch's desire for rebirth , like Christ's death on the cross and rebirth in Heaven, but also in his complete self sacrifice for Pip.