Then, without warning, Dickens thrusts drama into the story, instantly grabbing a reader’s attention. So far the setting has been eerily quiet, so using bold dialogue ‘Hold your noise! ‘ was a very effective way of starting the story in a sense and adding substance to it. The man that comes towards Pip shouts ‘keep still you little devil, or ill cut your throat! ‘ – An instant threat, this makes us as readers very afraid for the vulnerable young boy. Dickens then goes on to describe the man, and we are made aware that he is an escaped prisoner of some sort as Dickens says ‘a great iron on his leg’.
The fact that he is a criminal indicates that he may well be a very dangerous man who wouldn’t hesitate in hurting Pip as he would have nothing to loose. This point is reinforced as Dickens describes the man to be scruffy in describing him as ‘a man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied around his head’. This portrays quite the opposite of an ideally dressed man of that time, hence him having nothing to loose. By now the readers would have a strong disliking for this man, this scruffy criminal that had jumped out at frightened young Pip and threatened him.
However as Dickens continues to describe the man, he makes us feel almost sorry for him as he describes him to be ‘a man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars’. By his continuous use of the word ‘and’ Dickens makes his readers take notice and focus on words rather than reading through the descriptive phrases like a list. He also makes us recognise how many things this man has suffered through, as with pauses in-between the phrases we are made aware of the amount of things he had endured.
In this sentence Dickens also uses words that describe many different types of physical injury, in example – lamed, cut, stung, torn. This makes us think about how much suffering the man has been through, experiencing many types of physical pain. Dickens then goes on to say ‘who limped and shivered’ – this makes us aware that the criminal is hurt so much that he has trouble walking, and how cold he is, increasing our level of sympathy for him also. The readers are then made aware of the situation again and the danger Pip is still in as the criminal ‘glared and growled, and whose teeth chattered in his head’ as he ‘seized’ Pip by the chin.
We are then made to have great sympathy for Pip as he begs and ‘pleas’ in ‘terror’. Then, every time the criminal speaks to pip it is an order, and he is forceful with trying to extract the information he wants from Pip, as he shouts his orders almost every time. I know this due to the writer’s continuous use of exclamation marks. Pip then points out where he lives, which unfortunately is ‘a mile or more from the church’, the place where Pip is currently situated. This tells us that he is very far from safety.
The criminal then turns Pip upside down, a clear display of his strength compared to Pip’s weakness. Dickens then describes the criminal as ‘sudden and strong’ which reinforces this point. Pip was then ‘trembling’ from fear, whilst the criminal ate the bread from Pip’s pocket ‘ravenously’; this shows us that the criminal has animal tendencies, perhaps as he has been reduced to his ‘caveman-like’ state of mind in order to survive. This indicates once again how desperate the man is, and how starving he must have been.
Dickens then says how Pip is ‘undersized’ for his ‘years’ and ‘not strong’, compared with the criminal’s strength, recklessness, desperation and savage ways Pip was sure to loose in a fight. Dickens then reminds us of the man’s desperation and hunger when he says ‘Darn me If I couldn’t eat em’ when referring to Pips cheeks. Pip ‘held tighter to the tombstone’ which he was sat on – another reference to his fear. Dickens also uses words like ‘timidly’ when referring to Pip speaking to the criminal, once again showing his vulnerability and childlike behaviour.
Pip also refers to the criminal as ‘sir’, even though he is clearly not a gentleman (the way he is dressed, the way he talks improperly – ‘sumever’, ‘partikler’, ‘I am a angel’) which shows that Pip is a very polite child and has respect for all of his elders. Once the criminal finds out that Pip’s uncle is a blacksmith, he says ‘blacksmith, eh? ‘ and looks ‘down at his leg’ – this tells us that he has made the connection between the blacksmiths tools and the iron on his leg, he is thinking that Pip maybe able to retrieve some sort of tool which could remove the iron on the criminal’s leg.
In doing this he recognises that Pip could be of use to him, and things start to look prosperous in the hope of Pips life not being endangered to the readers. The criminal orders Pip to bring him a file and food and drink – ‘wittles’. Dickens explains from Pips point of view that after each question he ’tilted me over a little more, so as to give me a greater senses of helplessness and danger’ – ‘me’ being Pip of course. This tells us in itself what the criminal is trying to do, and reminds us of how helpless Pip actually is.
The criminal then gives Pip short orders, and after every one Dickens says (from the point of view of Pip) ‘he tilted me again’. He did this four times, the constant use of the phrase builds up tension, constantly making us as readers fear for Pip’s safety. After finally placing Pip on a tombstone, the criminal recaps on what Pip must do to ensure his own safety; and just in case the threat of the criminal coming after Pip isn’t enough, he threatens him with an even worse fate in the form of ‘a young man’ who in comparison with himself makes the criminal an ‘angel’.
The criminal then tells Pip of what the young man would do to him should he fail to obey the criminals orders. Dickens then uses his third language pattern yet in the first chapter to build up tension, he says ‘may lock his door, may be warm in bed, may tuck himself up’ ect, all creating the idea of safety, but then the idea is shattered with the use of the simple but effective word ‘but’. Pip agrees to do what the criminal says, yet the criminal curses Pip if he doesn’t, and finally tries to ensure that Pip will definitely come back with one more threat of the ‘young man’.