Development of the narrative

The narrative of Great Expectations develops in a number of ways:

  • there is a detailed and lengthy narration of particular scenes, such as the Christmas dinner (Ch. 4; Vol. 1, Ch. 4), Pip's first visit to Satis House (Ch. 8; Vol. 1, Ch. 8) or the arrival of Magwitch at Pip's lodgings (Ch. 39; Vol. 2, Ch. 20)
  • this is balanced by the rapid narration of longer periods of time, such as the four years between Pip's apprenticeship and the announcement of his expectations (see Ch. 18; Vol. 1, Ch. 18) or the two years from his early days in London to the reappearance of Magwitch (Ch. 38; Vol. 2, Ch. 19)
  • these different means of narrative development vary the pace of the story
  • they also add to its sense of reality, in that most lives move at an even pace punctuated by episodes of more excitement and significance
  • Pip has a sense of the shape of his own life and sometimes announces the approach of important incidents (again, see Ch. 38; Vol. 2, Ch. 19, where Magwitch's arrival is clearly signaled)
  • The occasional rapid movement from one time to another enables Dickens to emphasise the stages in Pip's development (see A learning novel).
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