Dickens use of tension between scenes 1 and 39 in the revolutionary novel ‘Great Expectations’ works very well to create a sensation of suspense and awareness of the tension between Pip and Magwitch in the two scenes. Beyond the churchyard were the marshes then the river. With the wind whistling and the eerie sense of an unwelcome presence gives the impression of desolation and desertion, highlighting Pip feeling frightened, alone and weeping in a swampy churchyard.
Suddenly, a new picture emerges, a shady figure in the fog building up the tension as you hear a sinister voice coming from a man rising from the soggy, abyss of the darkness amongst the graves. As this weary man draws closer to the vulnerable Pip, you get a feeling of dread for Pip as you fear just the presence of this man is something ominous. As this mysterious man is revealed, he is shown as bedraggled, due to his prisoner’s uniform, he is clearly a prisoner on the run as he is draped in convicts clothing, already just by his presence, you get the feeling that this unwelcoming man would stop at nothing due to his obvious yet unclear appearance and background.
He has a shackle on his legs, binding them painfully together. His body is soaking wet and bloody, showing how desperate he is and how little he has to lose. They can do no more to him; he has suffered eternally at their toil and will endure it no more, he won’t go back. The tension mounts as Pip pleads with the convict who lividly demands to know his name and where he lives. The convict flips the helpless Pip upside down, emptying his already strained pockets, he finds bread, which he swiftly finishes.
Although we don’t know who this mysterious character is but we do know he will stop at nothing to get his freedom back, even if this means robbing a helpless young boy even if it’s for a little bread. When Pip reveals to the so far heartless convict that Pip is standing in front of the graves of his parents and brothers, they stare helplessly at their powerless Pip as he is flung upside down, tormented and made feel like he is nothing, victimised by a man who is an outlaw to society. This softens the convict’s so far black and heartless shell, but only slightly. When he learns that Pips brother in law who he lives with is a blacksmith, he sees a way out of his desperate predicament.
When the convict commands Pip to bring him a file and some food, he tortures him in saying, “the question being whether you’re let to live” he goes on to say “you’ll bring ’em both to me…or I’ll have your heart and liver out”. This shows his desperation, as he knows if he doesn’t find a way out now, he will be imprisoned forever more. The tension in the scene mounts when the convict says, “no matter how small it is and your heart and your liver shall be tore out, roasted and ate”.
He also terrifies Pip by saying “I am keeping that young man from harming you at the present moment with great difficulty”. Before he releases the petrified Pip, he makes him swear by God that he wont tell anyone about his encounter and that he will bring the convict a file and some food for the next day. The chapter ends with Pip watching as the man limps into the darkness of the gloomy marsh. Above all his distraught and terror, as he urgently scampers home he can’t help but feel empathy for this rejected convict, alone in an unforgiving world.
In this chapter, we see that our once young and vulnerable Pip has grown into a proud and arrogant young man. At this point, he is living with his companion Herbert although he is away at this point in our story. We begin the chapter with Pip quietly reading, safe, secluded, whilst outside his warm chambers, an immense storm rages throughout London. The rain plummets from the heavens, its power unrecognised within the human mind but shown as it impacts on the beaten London ground. Outside his door, he hears heavy footsteps, slowly beating against the stairs and at his door, an old mysterious sailor appears.
This strange, hazy man is elderly and bald, at first Pip behaves in a dismissing and arrogant manor, until it is dawned upon him who this unfamiliar and vague figure is-the convict Magwitch who he unwillingly helped escape capture all those years ago. Pip is in shock to see this man from his elemental past; he was such an influential chapter in Pips life and now, after all those years is standing face to face with his savoir Pip. However, when Magwitch reveals the truth, Pip is in a state of shock and is horrified. It is then when it is revealed to him that this man whom Pip, the orphan boy with nothing felt sympathetic for, was Pips benefactor.
This is clearly a colossal blow to Pip as all this time he was certain that it was Ms Havisham. This is an obvious blow to Pip as he is filled with a sense that his life has been washed away like the ferocious storm outside washes away the mud-covered ground. He now knows that he and Estelle were never meant to be, stinging him most and adding to the tension between the two.
The convict continues to inform Pip how he travelled to Australia after Pip gave him his freedom where he worked on a sheep ranch and became very wealthy whilst toiling there. Magwitchs’ re-appearance in Pips life creates a huge turning point in the book and generates a huge sense of tension in the scene between the two significant characters. Magwitch refers himself to Pips second father; it quotes in the text, “look’ee here, Pip. I’m your second father; you’re my son-more to neither any son nor me. I’ve put away money, only for you to spend”. This shows magwitchs’ care for Pip and his appreciation for what he did for him years before despite the fact that Pip has not heard from Magwitch for years and even then, their meeting was brief and unpleasant. It shows Magwitch’ affection for Pip as, after over 15 years, Magwitch has found no one to be closer to.
Despite Pip being distraught with this news, he feels behold ant to the old man and allows him to stay for the night. After feeding him, the chapter ends with a cautious Pip discovering a pistol beside Magwitchs’ bed, heightening to the tension in the scene and between the two. When Pip awakens at 5 o’clock, a terrible storm rages outside, this storm correlates well with the tension in the scene representing troubled times ahead for Pip and his secret benefactor.