Advantages of a first-person narrator

There are many advantages to using the first person:

  • it gives the action a sense of directness and immediacy in that the reader shares Pip's experiences
  • a first person narrative may assure readers that what they are reading is truthful and authentic
  • in the hands of a skilful author like Dickens, however, it can incorporate an element of narrative irony in that in many situations there is a distance between Pip and the reader, in that the latter is in a position to judge people and events in ways that Pip cannot at first perceive: the best example of this is Pip's hurtful and patronizing treatment of Joe and Biddy
  • in the same manner, Dickens can include in the story a built-in commentary on the action as the elder Pip recalls his own behaviour and begins to see it in a different light
  • the narrative therefore works on different levels:

     

    • on one level, we observe people and events on the younger Pip's terms
    • on another level, we share the elder Pip's reflections as he learns and understands more about his life
    • on a third level, we remain ourselves as we read, and can therefore form our own judgments
    • the different levels on which the narrative works help to overcome the main disadvantage of the first person narrative – that of seeing the action from a single point of view.
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