Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Great Expectations: Key Scene Analysis

To gain a better understanding of how language techniques work together to create meaning, it is a good idea to analyse a few key scenes from the text.

Make notes about a key scene in Great Expectations, taking into account:
• language techniques
• examples (quotes) of the techniques from the text
• analysis of how these examples relate to belonging.

Then write a full analysis of the scene and its techniques, and its relation to belonging.
An example of a scene has been included in the following modelled response. After you have read the modelled response, choose a different scene to analyse.

Modelled response
Key scene: Pip’s first visit to Satis House

Techniques and examples:
Decrepit imagery of Miss Havisham - ‘grave-clothes’, veil like a ‘shroud’
Lack of light in Miss Havisham’s house
Metaphor of cruel- hearted Estella

Miss Havisham is an old woman who has given up on life.
Decayed wedding dress represents Miss Havisham’s abandoned love and the decaying effect this has had on her perception of life.
Miss Havisham blocks out the light, highlighting her loneliness and withdrawal from society.
Estella bought up to break men’s hearts echoes Miss Havishams desire to spurn love.

Full analysis of how the techniques and examples represent belonging:Pip's visits to Miss Havisham’s house changes him, as he develops a determination to become a gentleman. Miss Havisham is an old woman who was abandoned on her weddind day and has, as a result, given up on life. Dickens describes her through decrepit imagery. Her yellowed wedding gown, ‘grave-clothes’, and the veil like a ‘shroud’, represents an abandoned love and the decaying effect this has had on her perception of life. She refuses to exit the house, blocking out the light further highlighting her loneliness and withdrawal from society. Pip imagines that if the light did strike Miss Havisham that it would turn her to dust. Her only companion is Estella, her beautiful adopted daughter, whom Pip develops a strong affection for, which turns into love as he grows older. But it is unrequited love, as Miss Havisham has made it her dark life's project to raise Estella as a cruel-hearted girl who will break men's hearts, metaphorically representing Miss Havisham's own desire to spurn love. The imagery in this scene is one of crumbling decay, just like Miss Havisham, sitting ‘corpse-like’ as she watched Estella and Pip play. It is unnatural as is the relationship between Estella and Miss Havisahm. Despite this, Pip aspires to belong to the high society the house symbolises. Although Pip feels uncomfortable visiting Satis House, he concludes that his ‘uncommonness’ is the cause of his distress and determines to become a gentleman. Pip is unable to see that the bitterness of the ‘cold wind’ echoes the bitterness of Miss Havisham and Estella.

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