Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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This particular passage from the novel “Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens depicts a troublesome night of restlessness. The narrator, who speaks in first person, a well-educated individual, endures a night of seclusion and restlessness as he is shorn of sleep by the atmosphere within the room

The opening lines commence the passage quite suddenly, with two exclamatory sentences. “What a doleful night!” This demonstrates that the narrator has been trying to sleep for quite sometime now, without success and has become upset. As he is thinking, him mind begins to jump from subject to subject and beings to explore the room. He thinks of all the discomforts presented by the room in form of heat, dust, dirt, and insects. Also, it becomes apparent that the narrator is unfamiliar with the room throughout him thoughts, and thus providing the reasoning as to why he feels aloof.

Continuing to fail attaining sleep, his senses are heightened in response to the unfamiliarity and discomfort with the room. “When I had lain awake a little while, those extraordinary voices with which silence teems began to make themselves audible”. He began to hear common creaks throughout the room as the room began to “whisper, sigh, tick, and play guitar”. Dickens uses personification on this occasion in order to reiterate him imagination that has become aware in the room.

While continuing to ponder, he sees the phrase “don’t go home” inscribed on the wall. Obviously it is a hallucination; however it originated from people telling him before. He is in an anxious, uncomfortable state as there is nothing available to offer him comfort. This phrase has no meaning to the reader until the narrator describes it as “bodily pain”, allowing the reader to understand the narrator’s state of mind as everyone has experiences physical pain. Perhaps, the reasoning for the appearance of the phrase at this point would be because the narrator’s conscious is telling him not to be afraid of the room and to stay there.

The thought of physical pain then led him mind to the thought of a past suicide which he read in the news paper. He then realizes the suicide occurred in the same room which he occupies now; he panics and scours the room for “red-marks”. “I had read in the newspapers how a gentleman, unknown had come to the Hummums in the night, and had gone to bed, and had destroyed himself, and had been found in the morning weltering in blood.” The quick and frequent punctuation in the quotation demonstrates that he is thinking, with unorganized thoughts which are natural. Him reference to the blood as “red-marks” demonstrates that he is frightened and trying to make the situation as calm as possible.

The remainder of the passage demonstrates the solitude created by the atmosphere of the room. The narrator conveys this on two occasions. Firstly, the room is referred to as an area in which no one may enter or exit. The following quotation demonstrates this: “It came in to my head that he must have occupied this very vault of mine”. The analogy to the room as a vault gives the room an association with solitude. As he, the narrator, is feeling lonely and focused on the newspaper murder, he opens him vault only to be consoled by a light. The fact that he was cheered up, “…and cheer myself with the companionship of a distant light”, from a light shows that the room must be very dismal and dark for a light to transform him feeling so rapidly.

The narrator of the passage would be a noble and well educated man. This can be discovered through the sophisticated use of the language. Furthermore, it would have to be an adult as they have obviously read the newspaper and remembers the articles quite clearly. Further evidence to demonstrate this is the fact that there is a chamberlain in the house. Often these people existed in wealthy and noble house throughout Britain to keep an eye on the house.

The extensive imagination of the man may be explained by the fact that he is extremely over tired and is creating this images and sounds from his desperation for sleep, and his mind is simply trying to entertain him. There is a lot of punctuation in the passage as well as a variety of it. This is because the man is thinking and it is natural to be unorganized in thought, especially when trying to sleep. This also explains the sudden jump from topic to topic throughout the passage.

Dickens goal of the passage was to relate the troubles of sleeping in places foreign to your home bed. He does this effectively as at one point or another, everyone has endured the troubles of trying to sleep and is something that people can easily relate to. He employs a great use of the language to display realism and also, from the form of language can determine certain aspects of the character, such that is a well-read male.

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