Mills AP Lit and Comp discussion

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July post #1: Great Expectations

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message 1: by Mr. Eric Mills (new)

Mr. Eric Mills | 9 comments Mod
In questioning the value of literary realism, Flannery O’Connor has written, “I am interested in making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe that it is the only way to make people see.” Write 2-3 paragraphs in which you “make a good case for distortion,” as distinct from literary realism. Analyze how important elements of Great Expectations are “distorted” and explain how these distortions contribute to the effectiveness of the work. Avoid plot summary and use evidence.


message 2: by Izzie (new)

Izzie Hicks | 7 comments Izzie Hicks period 2

Literary realism and distortion are popular techniques used by novelists. As opposites, an author must make a choice as to which element he or she feels would work best with his or her work. In his novel Great Expectations, Charles Dickens utilizes distorted elements to help portray central themes and contribute to the effectiveness of the work. A distorted element in the novel is the protagonist Pip’s perception of the wealthy and distinctions between social classes. Pip’s ideas revolving this change throughout the story, shown to the reader through his love for Estella and the internal flaws of wealthy characters. In all, these elements work to portray one of Dickens’ central themes: wealth is constantly fluctuating, and despite how important it may seem to attain it, being a good person with integrity and a desire to better oneself is more critical.

Pip’s choice to love Estella over Biddy shows his lust to join the wealthy and become a gentleman. Despite the fact that Estella is bitter, rude, and raised to break her suitors’ hearts, Pip is infatuated with her over the course the novel, even when he knows Biddy would be better for him. He says, “Biddy was never insulting, or capricious, or Biddy to-day—and somebody else to-morrow; she would have derived only pain, and no pleasure, from giving me pain; she would far rather have wounded her own breast than mine. How could it be, then, that I did not like her the much better of the two?” (130-131). Pip’s choice of Estella shows his romantic perception of the upper class. He essentially views wealth as perfection, saying that “I loved Estella...against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness...I loved her none the less because I knew it, and it had to be more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection” (253-254). Pip’s obsession is so immense throughout most of the novel that it is evident Dickens chose to distort it. However, Pip’s choice towards the end ultimately showcases the theme: with his captivation of the upper class and Estella dispersed, he decides to go home and marry Biddy. Even though she has already chose to marry Joe, this action portrays Dickens’ theme involving the importance of character over wealth. In addition, the juxtaposition of the wealthy and poor character’s morals is a distortion that helps drive Dickens’ theme. The majority of the upper class characters, including Bentley Drummle, Miss Havisham, and Estella, all are internally flawed despite their respected outside appearances. Pip describes Bentley Drummle as “proud, niggardly, reserved, and suspicious. He came of rich people down in Somersetshire, who had nursed this combination of qualities until they made the discovery that it was just of age and a blockhead” (212). In contrast, the poor characters in the novel are inherently good, such as Magwitch—who gave Pip his fortune even when he came from a lower class than Pip—and Joe, who is a “mild, good-natured, sweet-tempered, easy going” (6) man of commoner class. Dickens’ choice to compare the wealthy and poor characters in such a way is an distortion because inherently not all wealthy people are evil and not all poor people kind-hearted. He chooses to exaggerate in a way that helps the reader see his theme.

Overall, distortion is a technique that increases the effectiveness of the work; in Flannery O'Connor's words, it’s the only way to “make people see”. Dickens uses distortion in Great Expectations to expose the reader to his theme that being a good person is more important than attaining wealth, a value that Pip discovers throughout the course of the novel.


message 3: by Natalya (new)

Natalya Hill | 7 comments Natalya Hill period 2
The use of distortion in order to convey a message is still debated, and in some cases, literary realism is the best option to drive home a book’s theme. But in much fiction, hyperbole and unrealistic aspects are often utilized to drive home a deeper, more complicated truth and message that might not have been perceived without distortion. Charles Dickens’s use of “distortion” as opposed to literary realism in Great Expectations is an effective tool in emphasizing and making clear to the reader the ridiculous notion of class differences and behaviors, which can be seen in the dialogue and behaviors of character (particularly the townspeople), and the ludicrous coincidences that drive the plot forward.
Distortion proves to be much more effective than literary realism in the case of characterization and the overall depiction of society. For instance, Dickens sets up completely unrealistic speech patterns to establish a character’s ridiculousness-- Mr Pumblechook’s “‘twelve pence make one shilling,’ up to forty pence make three and fourpence,’ and then triumphantly demanded, as if he had done for me, ‘Now! How much is forty-three pence?’” (Dickens 67) for example. The illustrations made of patronizing villagers who believe they are doing their best for Pip, and later the way Mr. Pumblechook treats him once he has ‘Expectations’-- “‘And may I-- may I--?’” (153)-- and his insistence on shaking Pip’s hand makes it more clear to the reader how extravagantly people react in regards to money and social standing. If the writing was more realistic, the subtleties of social maneuvering may have been perceived, but wouldn’t be as easy to laugh at and thus could not prove Dickens’s point about how laughable society is.
Furthermore, although the plot of the story follows Pip’s life and includes the less dramatic details of it, many of the events that make up the plot points of the book are extremely unrealistic in how unlikely they are to occur, especially the series of circumstances surrounding the prisoners. Even Pip comments on the unlikely nature of having run into the man who’d given Pip the two one pound notes, saying “the coincidence of our being together on the coach, was sufficiently strange to fill me with a dread that some other coincidence might at any moment connect me, in his hearing, with my name” (229). Magwitch deciding to be Pip’s benefactor, and his connection with Jagger and Estella are additional examples of the crazy coincidences that in realistic fiction would be hard to come upon, but in Great Expectations it not only creates a captivating plot that the reader is more willing to follow, but, as with the distortion of people, emphasizes the crazy and unlikely nature through which people accumulate wealth and prospects and social standings. As Pip navigates through a world of distorted truths, often exaggerated, the reader is able to more clearly receive the messages Dickens is sending out. Charles Dickens uses distortion as an element in Great Expectations to clarify and make more accessible and more understandable a deeper truth, under the guise of hyperbolic dialogue and characterization, and the peculiar coincidences that drive the plot.


message 4: by Molly (new)

Molly Worford | 7 comments Molly Worford
Period 1
Literary realism and distortion are contrasting methods that authors utilize conscientiously for different purposes. While the merits of both are important, distortion, and exaggerating or altering situations, often proves to be more convincing of the author's intended meaning. Distorting reality gives the reader insight into how the character thinks and what motivates them, showing the bias of their opinions and beliefs. Charles Dickens effectively uses literary distortion in his novel Great Expectations in order to drive central themes. Magwitch anonymously donating his fortune to pip seems unlikely of a convict as well as impossible for someone coming from such a low class, but it continues the theme that loyalty serves a greater meaning than wealth. Furthermore, the character Miss Havisham seems unrealistic yet serves as a means to carry the plot along and connect the characters in a more meaningful way.

Dickens uses distortion of the character Magwitch in order to convey the overarching theme that loyalty and morality are more important than social class or financial standing. Despite the fact that Magwitch is first described as “a man with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied round his head… who limped and shivered” (2), the poor convict is able to work his way up to wealth and success in order to gift his riches to Pip. Magwitch’s loyalty and gratitude to the boy is strong, and although he is a criminal, he still has a kind heart, determined to give him all the money he made rather than keep it for himself: “But wot, if i gets liberty and money, I’ll make that boy a gentleman” (251). This good deed is not only shocking to the reader but helps to highlight important themes
Dickens distorts the character Miss Havisham into a single-minded, vengeful woman caught up in her past. The role of the grieving women is greatly exaggerated in everything from the symbolic shoe that she wears on only one foot to the effort put into raising a child solely for the purpose of destroying men’s hearts. Although in reality most would eventually move past their heartbreak and realize that their revenge would only hurt others, Miss Havisham did not, therefore hurting Pip and Estella. The distortion of her character in this way would weave all of the characters together and fill in the plot with the eventual discovery that Estella is Magwitch’s daughter, and she the ex-fiance of Compeyson.


message 5: by Ryan (last edited Jul 25, 2016 06:00AM) (new)

Ryan Freedman | 7 comments Ryan Freedman
Period 1
In Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations, certain aspects of the story are distorted to better convey meaning. The use of this distortion is described by author Flannery O’Connor as “the only way to make people see”. One particular use of distortion in the story is the audacity of Miss Havisham’s condition: “But, I saw everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white, and had lost its luster, and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress” (93). In reality, the heartbreak Miss Havisham experiences in the story would be crippling, but her reaction in the story is far from realistic. Not only does this distortion contribute to the suspense of the story, but the plot. Miss Havisham’s madness is what causes Estella’s cold-heartedness and much of Pip’s emotional suffering.

First, this distortion helps to contribute to the audacity of the story in addition to the suspense of finding Pip’s benefactor. While several other characters, such as Mr. Pumblechook, are potential candidates, we continue to suspect Miss Havisham of being the benefactor due to her supposed lunacy, and her interest in making Estella the woman she herself would have been had she not been jilted. Her interest in marriage also contributes to the illusion that she is Pip’s benefactor, and has plans to raise Pip to marry Estella, saying that she “bred her and educated her, to be loved.”(269).

Miss Havisham’s conversation with Pip when he is first leaving for London also supports our suspicions that Miss Havisham is the benefactor: “‘Well!’...’You have a promising career ahead of you. Be good- deserve it- and abide by Mr. Jaggers’ instructions.’”(189). Miss Havisham seems to wish to influence Pip’s behavior here, making it seem like she is personally invested in his gentlemanly upbringing. When we find out that Pip’s benefactor is not Miss Havisham but the convict, Provis, Dickens takes advantage of the distortion of reality created around Miss Havisham to surprise the reader.


message 6: by Sam (new)

Sam Altman | 7 comments Sam Altman (Period 1.)
Charles Dickens effectively uses distortion to create memorable characters throughout "Great Expectations". These intricate and complex storylines give off a cartoonish feel to characters such as Pip. Distortion is used to mask Pip's true self. Pip is not remarkable for his horde of gold, bridal showers, or guillotine fascination. He is a common man that proves to be more influential to the many characters in "Great Expectations". The deception and distortion of other characters is so prevalent in how the novel shapes Pip's identity, but society seems to be the exact parallel to Pip's life throughout this amazing novel.

Pip has dreams of becoming rich, respected, and a well educated gentlemen in life. Soon all of these things that Pip longs for turn into a distorted fantasy that draws Pip to realize that all of his desires were based on false assumption. The true distortion lies in the title of the novel, "Great Expectations". Pips expectations for his future are unrealistic, but at the same time they are very understandable. “asking more from life than, under the limitations imposed by one’s nature, station, or the general conditions of existence, it can reasonably expected to return. The habit of holding great, but unrealistic expectations of life is the source of wrong [and] evil . . . ” (279). All of Pip's relationships become illusions, and Estella is contributes to this.

Charles Dickens uses social inequity along with the industrial revolution to make since of the distortion in "Great Expectations". What separates distortion from literary realism, is the powerful effect of letting the reader draw a conclusion that is offered from a unique angle; and Charles Dickens mastered the ability to distort character attributes and plot line to draw a conclusion about the larger meaning of the novel "Great Expectations". “The truth is not distorted here, but rather a distortion is used to get at truth.” -Flannery O'Connor.


message 7: by Gianna (new)

Gianna Neathammer | 7 comments Gianna Neathammer Period 2

Distortion occurs in novels in order to enhance the themes, characters, and overall plot. It can also serve as a way to keep readers engaged. In this particular novel, Charles Dickens uses distortion to make points easier to see, just as Flannery O'Connor mentioned in her statement. Dickens distorts the point that Estella is Abel’s daughter, and the return of Abel Magwitch (the convict).


“‘I know I am quite myself. And the man we have in hiding down the river, is Estella’s Father.’” (392). A distortion is a change, twist, or exaggeration that makes something appear different from the way it really is. This is a distortion because it is a twist in the plot. Pip was surprised to learn the parentage of Estella because it has previously been unknown why Magwitch had so much interest in Pip. At this point the confusion is cleared up, and the reader finally has an understanding of the character’s place in the novel. This creates a reason for Pip to help Magwitch which was the closing part of the story. The reader can now see why Dickens made the choice of including the mystery of Magwitch, Estella, and all that came along with it. Another distortion in the novel is when Abel Magwitch returns into Pip’s life. This part is unexpected and causes change which is what Dickens seemed to be going for. “By-and-by, his door opened and he came out. I could not bring myself to bear the sight of him, and I thought he has a worse look by daylight”(317). This quote happens when Pip sees Magwitch again years after their first encounter. The return of Magwitch causes a significant change in Pip’s life, as he later has to help Magwitch escape from London. The distortion Dickens uses helps the reader “see”, as O'Connor said, but also supports the themes, characters, and overall plot of the novel.


message 8: by Jackson (new)

Jackson Ripley | 7 comments Jackson Ripley, period 2

One of the many ways reality is distorted in "Great Expectations" is through Dickens' (or Pip's, rather) description of characters and settings. Rather than a more linear or conventional approach, Dickens elects to liken certain aspects of his story to more abstract literary elements. The quotation "I had seen the damp lying on the outside of my little window, as if some goblin had been crying there all night, and using the window for a pocket-handkerchief. Now, I saw the damp lying on the bare hedges and spare grass, like a coarser sort of spiders' webs; hanging itself from twig to twig and blade to blade." (10) lends itself to this idea as it uses fantastical symbols to describe something as simple as a blade of grass or a window pane. This distorts the otherwise realistic story as it distracts from just that: reality. For a moment it forces the reader to consider unreal aspects of literature, and Dickens continues to do so throughout the novel.

Seeing as the story is told from Pip's perspective, developing with him as he ages and matures, another aspect of reality subject to distortion in "Great Expectations" is Pip's perception of society and its inner workings, particularly the interactions between the upper, middle, and lower classes. From early in the novel it is clear Pip aspires to join the ranks of the British elite as an English gentleman, wishing to find fame and fortune as well as recieve a quality education. He believes that some day, despite his humble, lowly birth, he can become a gentleman and live out the rest of his life with ease. One of the driving forces behind his belief is a romantic interest in (and at times obsession with) the girl Estella, a toxic young woman who finds joy in breaking the hearts of young men like Pip who pursue her. "And now, because my mind was not confused enough before, I complicated its confusion fifty thousand-fold, by having states and seasons when I was clear that Biddy was immeasurably better than Estella, and that the plain honest working life to which I was born, had nothing in it to be ashamed of, but offered me sufficient means of self-respect and happiness." (78). Now not only is Pip's dream of somehow coming into a kingly fortune (which miraculously does happen) distorting his perception of reality, but now so is his devotion to Estella.

Though "Great Expectations" may not strictly be considered an abstract work, it certainly has abstract themes and moments, particularly when Pip wishes to explore the virtues and complications of society and romance.


message 9: by Bella (last edited Jul 27, 2016 01:01PM) (new)

Bella Speelman | 7 comments Bella Speelman, Period 2

Charles Dickens’ 1861 novel, Great Expectations, tells a tale rich with moral and social insight, bizarre plot twists, class divisions and the all too common themes of loss, wealth, and love. In questioning the value of literary realism, Flannery O’Connor stated she is “coming to believe that it [distortion] is the only way to make people see” and Dickens is able to effectively use distortion in his novel to tell the story of Pip, a young, abused orphan boy whose identity becomes distorted due to his sudden wealth and life-long guilt.

Pip’s loss of identity is not necessarily his own fault, but rather the result of constant abuse from his elder sister which causes him to seek to live a fairytale lifestyle which turns out to only be an illusion. He is made to feel at a young age due to this abuse that his very existence is a crime “I was always treated as if I had insisted on being born in opposition to the dictates of reason, religion, and morality, and against the dissuading arguments of my best friends” (21). Pip also makes reference many times to his own corruption, with lines such as “I was in mortal terror of myself…I am afraid to think of what I might have done on requirement, in the secrecy of my terror” (13) and is made to believe that he will never be good enough the way he is when with Estella and Ms. Havisham. This distortion of Pip’s character by Dickens helps to, as O’Connor said, “make people see” by showing Pip fall from virtue which ultimately results in great personal loss, but when he abandons his “great expectations” for the life he once knew, he finds himself complete. Dickens’ distortion of Pip’s character acts as a sort of moral insight, teaching both Pip as well as the reader that acting like a ‘gentleman’ and obtaining vast amounts of wealth do not necessarily result in happiness, and one has to learn to accept who they are in real life, not who they wish to be, before they can be truly happy.


message 10: by Marah (last edited Jul 27, 2016 04:15PM) (new)

Marah | 7 comments Marah Herreid
P 3
Literary realism and distortion are techniques used to reveal truth in opposite ways. "Great Expectations," a book centralized around very concrete themes of classicism, moral identity, and coming of age as an individual who is a part of a larger society, rather than utilizing the obvious choice of portrayal through realistic analysis, rather amounts to an almost fantastical feeling story.
Dickens's distorts these concepts both on a very small scale--i.e. hyperbolizing small parts of an environment in an abstract way--as well as on a very large scale, through the perception of Pip's life as himself. Much like all humans are accustomed to but not necessarily conscious of, Dickens's makes an effort to portray Pip from his own thoughts, thus leading to a not entirely accurate or consistent depiction of the character. Doing so is not in an attempt to trick readers into believing Pip is someone he is not, however--it is a reflection of the habit humans have of viewing ourselves through the eyes of our desires. This is precisely what Pip does in his self-discovery throughout the novel. He is constantly changing, if only slightly, in values, age, and attitude. Take chapter 40, for instance. He states, "The imaginary student pursued by the misshapen creature he had impiously made, was not more wretched than I, pursued by the creature who had made me, and recoiling from him with a stronger repulsion, the more he admired me and the fonder he was of me," (392). This statement, like many of Dickens's that remain both illogical and philosophical, is an example of how he utilizes a distorted or "unreal" portrayal of events to depict real ideas, in this case, about the effects of empathy combined with revulsion toward another individual. This same revealing type of distortion is also seen in Pip's initial "love" of Estella. These feelings are brought on not but lust nor love but of desire to disprove the status he was born being given. The novel, however, makes a point not to say so, but rather to show the characters' emotions as genuine and from their own perspectives, as though distorting the story for the audience in favor of Pip's judgement, while allowing them to make their own distinctions between his POV and his reality. This occurs even in one of the last lines of the novel, leaving many reader's confilcted and in ambiguity, when Dickens's says regarding Estella, "I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so, the evening mists were rising now, and in all the broad expanse of tranquil light they showed to me, I saw no shadow of another parting from her." Shortly before this, Pip dwells on sadness over Biddy's marriage--whom was less cruel and intimidating than Estella towards him. This contrast is a prime example of a more mysterious approach to an otherwise very normal situation. It also created a more powerful ending regarding the identification of Pip at the end of it all, and where he stands not just romantically or emotionally, but morally, after a life-long journey accompanied by so many varying statuses and companions.
Particularly in this novel, this strategy proves extremely effective as it gives readers the opportunity to see how reality truly morphs based on the factors of an individual's imagination and hopes. It is almost as though realism is a scientific experiment--done with only two variables and a variety of constants--whereas distortion proves to be a much less controlled observational study that also seeks to show the same results, and this was a beautifully crafted way in order for Dickens's to get his messages across.


message 11: by Kyle (last edited Jul 27, 2016 04:46PM) (new)

Kyle | 7 comments Kyle Friesen
P1
The film Synecdoche, New York follows a theatre director as he attempts to create a play that truly and honestly imitates real life. The play that is written slowly starts to embody more and more realism and it starts to get closer and closer to real life. However, since real life already exists and cannot therefore be created again, every piece of literature, even that scarily life-like play must be distorted in some way. Dickens’ Great Expectations uses distortion to take an account of “real life” and extract a story from its events.
This novel is a perfect example of how to use Chekov’s Gun. The only characters we meet that get a name and more than a paragraph of interaction with are crucial to the story, even if the reader won’t know why for a while. Miss Skiffins, for example, doesn’t seem like anybody important to Pip because she only gets described as a, “lady by whom [Wemmick] was accompanied” (285). In the end, she advances the plot by giving Pip a way support Herbert and she also helps develop Wemmick’s character. This is great use of distortion because Pip meets many people throughout the story who have very little importance in his life, but Dickens only spends time writing about characters that matter. This gives the audience tunnel vision on only the things that are actually important to the plot, making for a tight and engaging story. Additionally, controlling the audience’s focus through distortion allows for some very dramatic reveals. The man in the stairwell after the formal introduction of Provis diverts the story for a second, avoiding any revealing descriptions of the mysterious man, and is barely mentioned afterwards. The resulting effect being that when Olrick’s identity is revealed, it’s that much more of an important discovery for the audience. Similarly, when different character relationships are revealed, the audience starts to become aware that Pip’s circumstances were inevitable, as the seemingly impossible web of human interactions created adds to the absurdity that story means to convey, giving the readers a sense of the purpose of the story.
In the end, by distorting the reader’s view of Pip’s world, Great Expectations gains a dimension of clarity to the point where, at the end of the book, there is a real sense of resolution as there are no questions left unanswered. In this way, Dickens creates irony and conflict that make Pip’s story something more than just a simple biographical account.


message 12: by Lauren (new)

Lauren | 7 comments Lauren Page Period 1

Literary realism and distortion are two opposing writing techniques authors often choose between when writing stories. When authors use distortion they are completing the action of giving a misleading account or impression, or in other words embellishing the truth. As an opposing subject, literary realism is the faithful representation of reality, or verisimilitude. One principle no fiction writer can afford to ignore is that a story should be shown and not told. Charles Dickens uses distortion in his novel to emphasize main themes and ideas and to intrigue the audience. Another way of putting this is to say that the story is dramatized. Authors must refrain from putting themselves in the position of a reporter who passes on information to the reader. They must put the characters on stage, make them act and speak, and in the case of the central character make him/her think and feel and perceive too, but remain unseen. Distortion often proves to be more convincing of the author's intended meaning.The moral theme of Great Expectations is quite simple: affection, loyalty, and conscience are more important than social advancement, wealth, and class. Dickens emphasizes this theme by using distortion to aggrandize details and plot points in the story.

In this book, Dickens uses the young protagonist Pip to explore the idea of the identity of the Victorian gentleman in relationship to his society, employing fairy tale constructs to ridicule the romantic illusions of the time period. Dickens’ story is very nearly a myth, a Cinderella tale of desperate poverty replaced by magnificent prosperity. When Pip first sees Satis House, he longs to be a wealthy gentleman; when he thinks of his moral shortcomings, he longs to be good; when he realizes that he cannot read, he longs to learn how. Pip’s desire for self-improvement is the main source of the novel’s title: because he believes in the possibility of advancement in life, he has “great expectations” about his future. In love with Estella, he longs to become a member of her social class, and he entertains fantasies of becoming a gentleman. Pip desires educational improvement. This desire is deeply connected to his social ambition and longing to marry Estella: a full education is a requirement of being a gentleman. As long as he is an ignorant country boy, he has no hope of social advancement. Throughout Great Expectations, Dickens explores the class system of Victorian England, ranging from the most wretched criminals (Magwitch) to the poor peasants of the marsh country (Joe and Biddy) to the middle class (Pumblechook) to the very rich (Miss Havisham). Dickens does this by distortion and exaggerating the story and characters to make it more enjoyable and entertaining to the reader. Dickens embellished pip's love for Estella in the story to intrigue the audience into their struggling love story. “The broken heart. You think you will die, but you just keep living, day after day after terrible day. “ (224) The magnification of Pips longing for Estella draws in the reader and creates an urge to want to continue reading to learn if Pip ever gets granted his wish of Estella. “Love her, love her, love her! If she favours you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces – and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear deeper – love her, love her, love her!” (356)

Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations contains a wealth of moral, social, and philosophical insights. Rife with rich characterizations, fairy-tale elements, grotesque and bizarre plot twists, Victorian social issues, and a beautifully thoughtful and imaginative commentary on the universal human themes of loss, guilt, abuse, identity, money, social status, and love, this novel's use of distortions magnifies and brings the story to life.


message 13: by Taylor (new)

Taylor Page | 7 comments Taylor Page period 1

Distortion and literary realism are very different techniques that are often used by writers to make the story come to life in the readers eyes. Literary realism is broadly defined as the "faithful representation of reality." Realism is about recreating life in literature. Distortion is a change, twist, or exaggeration that makes something appear different from the way it really is. Charles Dickens' used distortion in the novel Great Expectations to emphasize the difference between the social classes in society and to highlight the themes throughout the novel.

The key themes that Dickens' distorted throughout the novel were; society and class, dreams, wealth, love and time. Throughout Pips life, he is constantly exposed to characters that vary greatly in both characters and social class. Magwitch, Joe and Bitty are the low end while Miss Havisham, Compeyson and Drummle represent the high class. Dickens’ vividly portrays most of the characters with one without the other, showing a vivid contrast between the two and demonstrating which one of these two qualities are truly the most important. Dickens' also accentuates the difference between the classes by having most of the novels heroes (Joe, Biddy, etc) in the lower class and having the villains (Compeyson and Drummle) in the upper class. Pip decides he wants to be a gentleman and soon enough he is chosen to be one of "great expectations" and goes from a working boy to a man of high class society. This is very distorted in the fact that this situation is very unrealistic and exaggerated. "No more low wet grounds, no more dikes and sluices, no more of these grazing cattle- though they seemed, in their dull manner, to wear a more respectful air now, in order that they might stare as long as possible at the possessor of such great expectations." (156) Another theme that is greatly distorted in the story is time. Pip goes from a seven year old boy to a man of "great expectations" in a matter of chapters. Dickens' most likely did this to make the reader think about our true understanding of time and how fast life can fly by.

Without the use of distortion, Great Expectations would not be the same novel. Flattery O'Connor states that distortion is, "the only way to make people see." From Dickens' use of distortion, the reader can see the difference between classes in society, how fast life actually goes by, and the struggles we face to achieve our hopes and goals.


message 14: by Brynn (new)

Brynn Gauthier | 7 comments Brynn Gauthier
Period 1

Distortion exists as poetic realism. It doesn’t make it any less literary, but, like the heightened languages and realities of Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams, it emphasises dramatic structure. Lyrical characters and psychological verisimilitude prevail distinctly in distortion as a way of penetrating subjective realities. It encourages us to feel and reflect and relate because even while the dialogue shares few similarities with our own, the intent of the action does. The nonlinear truth is what distortion singularly seeks.
Distortion persists in Great Expectations as the manifestation of Pipp’s individual perspective. His disfigured understandings and expectations as the summation of his identity are the product of his class-conscious world. His definition of what a gentleman is is fantastical. And subsequently, the characters that he encounters and the way he portrays them are a consequence of his infatuation with power and decorum. From the very beginning, those that stray from Pip’s idealized convention, from wearing a wedding dress everyday to humble compassion, are dismissed. Shame and aloofness lingers in his relationship with Miss Havisham and Joe. Nothing is black and white. But still in Pipp’s head these people could not exist in his desired lavish world. Here was his idea of belonging, his continued infatuation with beauty, with Estella as the promise of that beauty. And outside that world was a world of eccentricity, a world of imperfection purely because of its modesty or singularity. And yet Pipp’s burgeoning passion for everything correct is thwarted when the reality of his benefactor (that made the supposed “correctness” of his gentlemanly life possible) is revealed as one who was once a beggar. How then, can a gentleman be defined socially and economically? We familiarize ourselves with Pipp’s turbulent expectations in a world heightened by symbolism. And yet his eventual truth can still be held universal.
Literary realism is limited by actuality. Distortion is the subject of subjectivity. It is also the subject of poeticism, of a lyrical and symbolic world overwhelmed with fairy-tale esque tropes, yet grounded by an overwhelming understanding of actuality. In Great Expectations, it serves as a way to understand Pipp’s journey to moral responsibility, to understand what he had to confront and what it means to his decided identity. And the distortion of his journey makes this truth all the more effective.


message 15: by Nadia (new)

Nadia Stoker | 7 comments Nadia Stoker
Period 1
Distortion as a literary device can be used to exaggerate themes in ways that allow the reader to grasp esoteric or hidden meanings on a deeper level. Dickens demonstrates the effectiveness of distortion when conveying the depths of moral dilemmas and the effects choices have on the characters and their lives. By accentuating class differences and social stratifications, Dickens presents a juxtaposition of material wealth and high class lifestyles against the values of true moral fiber such as loyalty and selflessness.
Beginning when he is a young boy, Pip’s perceptions of the people he encounters significantly shape his ideas surrounding wealth and character as well as his personal values. Pip is comfortable in his lower class lifestyle through his friendship with Joe and Biddy. When Pip first meets Estella, he is completely enamored as she represents a level of class and extravagance that had previously been unknown to him and thus begins his infatuation with her and the lavish lifestyle she represents; Pip wishes to achieve this level of wealth. His previous lifestyle no longer seems suitable or enough for him in comparison to all that Estella appears to be. Upon their introduction, Estella immediately seems “above” Pip as she calls him “‘boy’ so often and with a carelessness that was far from complimentary, though she was about [his] own age” (54) and continues to act superior to Pip. He describes Estella’s exterior grandeur and attitude towards himself by saying, “She seemed much older than I, of course, being a girl, and beautiful and self possessed; and she was as scornful of me as if she had been one and twenty, and a queen” (55).
Evidently distorted, Pip’s infatuation persists throughout the entire novel despite Estella’s cold superiority, her marriage to Drummle, and Pip’s own decision to pursue Biddy after all, though he finds that she has married Joe. Pip is able to reflect upon his love for Estella as he says,“I loved her none the less because I knew it, and it had to be more influence in restraining me, than if I had devoutly believed her to be human perfection” (256). Pip’s acknowledgement of his own perception of perfection represents confirmation that wealth and lavish lifestyles equate to beauty and hold much value in his own mind. By emphasizing Pip’s undying love for Estella despite her superiority and the shame she projects onto Pip as he is regarded as nothing more than a lower class boy and later on remains as an unrequited lover, Dickens explicitly portrays the theme of social class. The distorted intensity of Pip’s favor for the wealth over love and morality effectively represents the theme which makes for a stronger novel.


message 16: by Hannah (new)

Hannah | 7 comments Distortion is a technique often used in literature to make the themes more evident by obscuring certain elements or exaggerating them. In any piece of literature, different parts are distorted for different reasons, but these distortions are usually in place to drive home meaning, and by analyzing distortion one can gain insight into the way the author or main character views the world. Dickens utilizes distortion in Great Expectations in many ways, and by doing so he is able to illustrate the themes of social class in a much more concrete way than if the same conflicts were faced in a situation with all the nuances of reality.

There is a proverb stating that “if one views the world through rose colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.” This is definitely conducive to the way Pip views the upper class, Estella in particular an example of this. Although Estella is abusive to Pip verbally and often exerts physical violence against him, Pip still retains a distorted and overly positive view of her saying, “I never had one hour’s happiness in her society, and yet my mind all round the four and twenty hours was harping on the happiness of having her with me unto death” (280), and even that he was “passing out without looking at her…” (60). By distorting Pip’s viewpoint of Estella, Dickens is driving home the moral that it’s harmful for one to view wealth and the upper class through such ‘rose-colored glasses’. While the reader can see this clearly, Pip cannot, which means that Dickens usage of distortion is effective in both illustrating the way in which his character views the world as well as drawing out a main theme about social class.


message 17: by Trinity (new)

Trinity | 7 comments Trinity Grant
P2
Distortion can be used, in a writer's world, to set a more emotional image in the reader's mind. Within well written pieces, such as The Great Expectations, it is conveyed as the pencil on paper. It draws out a beautifully descriptive scene, with a character’s emotional insight of the environment that is occurring around them. In the span of Pip’s life, he encounters difficult situations that need to be worked through. But, due to his abusive sister and terrified ‘uncle’, he has no one to talk through said issues with. For example, when he is first met with the homeless ‘criminal’ in the marshes. Pip’s mind goes through clear instances of an altered reality. It’s almost as if distortion is used as a comprehensible system for Pip to deal with new situations. As he describes the older man walking away from him, and further in the marshes, Pip can see him as a monster in a nightmare. “At the same time, he hugged his shuddering body in both of his arms- clasping himself, as if to hold himself together-” (19). Dickens uses a case of clear distortion as an almost promising metaphor. Within this sentence, the reader can understand the homeless man’s emotional output. The distortion in the scene continues with, “he looked in my young eyes as if he were eluding the hands of the dead people, stretching up cautiously of their graves, to get a twist upon his ankle and pull him in.” (20). This continues to enforce Pip’s understanding of this strange man, and the struggle he has been through.
When Pip is first introduced to the brewery at Miss Havisham’s house, his mind takes a spin, and the new found territory is explained as foreign material. “The brewery buildings had a little lane of communication with it , and the wooden gates of that lane stood open.” Dickens also uses this concept when Pip and Estella have their first conversation, and Pip is beginning to face an identity crisis, of sorts, when he realizes how different everything is around here. (in describing Estella,) “She seemed much older than I” (75). Again, later in the novel, the world he once knew is changing, as his perspective. “When I neared home the light on the spit of sand off the point on the marshes was gleaming against a black night sky, and Joe’s furnace was a flinging path of fire across the road.” (116). This example can demonstrate the idea of changing views, and his emotional processing of the ‘common boy’ accusations Estella makes upon him. It illustrates a point of view that is fearful to the ground he was once accustomed to. In the end, distortion is used by Dickens to expand on the new things happening to Pip, and to help the audience understand Pip’s emotional being throughtout the book and these new experiences.


message 18: by Bridget (new)

Bridget (bridgeygelato) | 7 comments Bridget Galaty
Period 2

Literary realism, at its root, seeks to portray events that could have happened and aims to tell these stories in ways that are believable to the reader. Conversely, distorted fiction takes stories and bends them so that they are slightly more fantastical and outside reality. While many authors have turned to realism in their fiction in order to preserve the world they observe, distorted works actually have the capacity to be more impactful than their “real” counterparts. Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations is a prime example of the benefits of distorted fiction.

The major appearance of distortion in Great Expectations is the use of coincidence, particularly regarding the character Provis. Provis is first introduced on second page of the novel. His importance initially seems to extend no further than the first three chapters, though it is not particularly surprising when he is seen again in the fifth. The distortion of the plot is in Provis' later reintroduction and plot relevance. The revelations that he is Pip's benefactor (250), Compeyson's former partner (272), and Estella's father (318) stretch the bounds of conventional reality. Coincidences like these do not usually appear in more realistic fiction, and tend to be reserved for fantasy. So why then has Dickens chosen to distort his tale? The answer lies primarily in the underlying themes of the book.

Great Expectations is most basically the story of a boy who has desires that are fulfilled and then later dashed. The distortion of the storytelling parallels children's stories which tend to be fantastical in nature. By following a narrative structure often found in adventure and fantasy tales (after all the only thing this book lacks is spontaneous human combustion) Dickens continues his deeper telling of Pip's perpetual boyhood desires and their conflict with the more mature ones he seeks to achieve.


message 19: by Josette (new)

Josette Axne | 7 comments Josette Axne Period 2
The distortion in Great Expectations, merely lies in Dickens creation of his characters. Each of his novels is full of illuminating, complex, cartoonish, dull, round, and very memorable people. Pip himself is shaped by the society he lives in and dreams of wealth and to take part of something he will be noticed in. He himself is common but, becomes encaptured in an illusion of the people that surround him. In Pip’s discovery of his identity and great expectations, Dickens uses the distorted elements of characters that enable Pip’s identity which is what truly drives the novel.

Pip’s illusion of his identity is noticed when he encounters different characters in the novel. His search for himself becomes reliant on these people and what they're teaching him. Started by his sister, who attempts to make him feel guilty he is alive. “If it warn’t for me you’d have been to the churchyard long ago, and stayed there. Who brought you up by hand?” “You did,” said I. “And why did I do it, I should like to know!” exclaimed my sister. I whimpered, “I don't know.” “I don’t!” said my sister. “Id never do it again! I know that… Is bad enough to be a blacksmith’s wife (and him a Gargery) without being your mother.” (9) Focusing on the whole idea of nature and nurture. Pip’s nature has innocent features, his nurture, on the other hand, is something that he desires, resulting in a distortion of his identity. A universal theme of human nature is that people’s impressions of themselves are generally formed or at least influenced by how others view them, and while Joe, has always been a kind presence in Pip’s life, Joe is more of an equal than a father, and a child without parents is a child without an inherited narrative to which he can connect his identity. When Pip meets Miss Havisham, his life is again distorted by this illusion of finding his identity. Pip realizes he won't find himself in the place that he is now, and therefore sets a goal for himself. False assumptions made by Miss Havisham and himself leads him to believe that he is meant for great expectations and it is his goal to strive for them. This goal is also pushed my the illusion of Estella. As a result, Pip’s dreamed goals of his expectations are destined to never be realized because he will never discover that his identity is always doomed to this distortion and incompleteness until he sees that Estella and his affection as shallow and destructive.

In Pip’s quest to find his valid identity, he comes to conclude that his distortion illusion of his goal of his great expectations are caused by the characters around him.


message 20: by Elise (last edited Jul 30, 2016 10:33AM) (new)

Elise | 8 comments Elise Todd
Period 2

Throughout Pip's life, he looks upon his new surrounding with much fear. One could make the agrument that he is much too fearful of his environment and those in it. However, his fear is necessary to show the reader just how new and changing his life was. For instance: When Pip gets his first exposure to wealth at Satis house, his wonder at the abandoned buildings is clear. He also takes a lot of time to describe many details of Lady Havisham and the room she is in. His wonder is so great that he is not able to play for Miss Havisham because he says "It's so new here, and so strange, and so fine-and melancholy". (66-67) Later when he meets "the pale young gentleman" who we later find to be Herbert, the way he describes stumbling upon him is almost mistery-like. After describing a little bit of his surroundings, he says: "I looked in at another window and and found myself, to my great suprise, exchanging a broad stare with a pale young gentleman with red eyelids and light hair. This pale young gentleman quickly disappeared, and reappeared beside me" (99). We know, of course, that this boy is very real, but Dickens had to make him seem mysterious in order to show the reader just how new it all was to Pip.

Pip is not only afraid when he is moving up in the world, but he is fearful when anything is new to him at his new station in life. The night that Abel reveals himself to be Pip's benefactor is a "stormy and wet" night. (334) This is obviousely a setting for mystery and fear; Abel's appearance and manner make the incident even more frightful. Even as Pip becomes more familiar with Abel, he still holds back because he is scared of him despite his trying to help him. Pip is overly scared of everything that is new to him, even when he has adjusted to high living. This was done by Dickens on purpose to express to the reader that Pip's life is always changing (as is ours) and often, fear comes along with that change. This technique used by Dickens adds to the overall excitement of the book by creating suspense and thrill along with the plot, thereby making his book even better.


message 21: by Isa (new)

Isa Harris | 7 comments Isa Harris: Period 2
Dickens uses literary realism and distortion contrastingly to further progress his plot and integrate themes throughout the piece. Distortion often proved to be more believable in relationship to Great Expectations. Dickens tended to exaggerate or twist the truth to make something appear different from the way it actually was. The characters thoughts are often distorted and the reader has a clearer understanding of what their opinions are and why certain actions take place. Dickens was effective when applying literary distortion within Great Expectations making sure to propel the plot line forward, while also including unconventional characters that are pivotal to the themes surrounding the novel. A central theme rooted in the piece is, conscience and loyalty are much more important than social advancement and wealth. A prime example of this is when Pip receives Magwitch's fortune anonymously; It seems uncanny that a convict would impart such money on a lower-class teenager, but nonetheless conveys the moral theme the novel encompasses.

Magwitch is a character that Dickens distorted to display the moral theme within his piece. Originally Magwitch is a man who grew from rags into riches and successfully excels in social ranking in order to grant Pip his wealth. Despite his convict title, he is a kind man whose thoughtfulness and loyal attitude ultimately is displayed through his actions towards Pip. In chapter 39 of the novel Dickens writes, "Look'ee here, Pip. I'm your second father. You're my son - more to me nor any son. I've put away money, only for you to spend." (188) This quote reflects Magwitch's caring demeanor yet distortion made his character out to be tough and intimidating based on his past.

Distortion overall is a way for an author to utilize misleading concepts to engage the reader and create a utterly confused impression. Dickens uses distortion effectively in Great Expectations to further the moral theme of the piece, conscience and loyalty are much more important than social advancement and wealth. This theme is touched upon often and one that both Pip and Magwitch discover throughout the novel.


message 22: by Mara (new)

Mara Osterburg | 4 comments Mara Osterburg
Period 2
When comparing distortion and literary realism, the author must decide what elements they want to use in their novel and the purpose of their novel. Although they are both used to get the reader to understand the true meaning, distortion plays a bigger role in Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. Dickens uses distortion to highlight the differences between characters and how they are affected by wealth, and drives the focus of the plot.

The characters in this novel are distorted through wealth and poverty by giving all of the upper class characters very complex backstories. They are all dealing with psychological issues but are still able to maintain their reputations. This is most prevalent in Estella and Miss Havisham’s relationship and background. The reader learns throughout the book that Miss Havisham was left at the altar and, although people usually move on, this stuck with her and influenced what she taught Estella, “break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy” (95). This distortion of her character created rifts between Pip and Estella and drove the plot to help us understand Magwitch and how important he is to the backstory. The reader also sees a distortion with the lower class characters in the story. A good distortional character is Joe; he is one of the most moral people in the novel. He is always there for Pip even when he moves to London and is very rude to Joe the whole time he is there. Joe appeals to the moral side of Pip, keeping him in check, even though Pip realizes it only after he has pushed Joe away. “I had not been mistaken in my fancy that there was a simple dignity in him...I hurried out after him and looked for him in neighboring streets; but he was gone” (224-225). Joe’s character is distorted so that Pip has a guiding force throughout the book. Although Joe is morally good, nobody in real life is that perfect when they have been pushed away so many times, or are able to forgive that easily.

Wealth and poverty are two of the major driving factors for character development and why Charles Dickens decided to distort certain elements. It presents the major theme that wealth does not contribute to the moral of the character, and it is not the only thing that can shape who they become. As Flannery O’Connor wrote, “it is the only way to make people see”. Charles Dickens enforces this idea about distortion with his novel.


message 23: by Greer (last edited Jul 29, 2016 10:52PM) (new)

Greer Ramsey-White | 7 comments Greer Ramsey-White
Period 1

Although Charles Dickens is an author of the Victorian era, his novel Great Expectations foreshadows those techniques of distorting reality found in postmodernism. While authors used literary realism to counteract the naïve optimism of romanticism, the technique of distortion also has the potential and power to do the same as literary realism in concentrating on using logical reason rather than intuition and feeling – especially depicting that of the “common man.” Distortion merely distracts from its true intentions and blurs them in an ironic and dark humored manner. In the end, it prevails in conveying its real message: it only enhances what an author is trying to say through wit and intellectual camouflage. Charles Dickens utilizes this aspect of distortion through the subject of friendship between Pip and Miss Havisham. Judgments of genuine friendships are twisted throughout the novel by simple triggers that can easily blind any of us: lust and obsession.

As soon as Pip met Estella, his desire in life completely altered: the desire to become a gentleman. Estella sparked this new fixation upon Pip as she teased him of “[calling] the knaves, Jacks this boy!” (Dickens 58) and “[the] coarse hands he as! And what thick boots he has!” (Dickens 58) leading her to embarrass him for being “common” as Pip admits, “My opinion of those accessories was not favourable. They had never troubled me before, but they trouble me now, as vulgar appendages” (Dickens 60). This trigger brought up Pip’s obsession to become a gentleman and from then on, his sights were always in regards to his desire. This lust for a wealthy lifestyle ultimately hindered his relations with true friends such as Joe. While Joe was always special to Pip in being a friend to him when no one else was (Dickens 40), Pip disregards his ties once he is whisked away and settled into his gentleman life admitting that he was embarrassed by Joe’s presence – “If I could have kept him away by paying money, I certainly would have paid money” (Dickens 209). Not only does Pip encounter such distortions but Miss Havisham does as well. Her obsession in “[wreaking] revenge on all the male sex” (Dickens 169) blinds her into blocking any possible sincere relationships, even Estella, in which she saw everyday while Estella was growing up. Miss Havisham becomes so obsessed with her notion that she forces Estella to carry out her wishes, hindering Estella’s way of life as well. Pip realizes, “I saw in this, that Estella was set to wreak Miss Havisham’s revenge on men [...] I saw in this, the distinct shadow of the darkened and unhealthy house in which her life was hidden from the sun” (Dickens 294): the result of obsession in Miss Havisham.

The distortion of friendship through the muddled lenses of lust and obsession aid in recognizing one of the novels’ bona fide messages: obsession can pervert any humane sincerity. Pip’s dream ultimately fades as he comes to know his true benefactor; he regrets all that he had done in getting to become a gentleman as Pip voices, “I would not have gone back to Joe now, I would not have gone back to Biddy now, for any consideration [...] I could never, never, never, undo what I had done” (Dickens 313). Miss Havisham also comes to the realization of what her fetish made her do and regrets it to Pip: “ ‘O!’ she cried, despairingly. “What have I done! What have I done!” (Dickens 383). Charles Dickens usage of distortion is quintessential in effectively relaying his message of friendship, and assists Dickens in creating his dark humored, disillusioned novel.


message 24: by Evan (new)

Evan Austin | 7 comments Evan Austin
Period 1

Every storyteller has the intention of wowing his/her audience. Regardless of the subject matter, whether it is a trip to the grocery store or a trip to the Himalayas, each narrator attempts to captivate the crowds’ attention. Along with this comes embellishment. In order to interest the listeners, authors and orators will often allow leniency in the line of truth and stretch the factual happenings to add intriguing qualities. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a prime example of inevitable elaboration when recounting a tale.

Despite his best efforts, Dickens exaggerates various parts of the novel, which inescapably distorts the true occurrences. Pip often embellishes his strong feelings and emotions, which is only natural and inevitable. Whenever he describes Estella or discusses his sister, the diction chosen comes from a place of unconscious thought, which skews the veracity of those people. Another largely distorting aspect is found in the type of narration: first person. The story recounted by Pip is vastly different from the actual happenings simply because it is told from his prospective. Various times throughout the novel, Pip seemingly becomes unconscious of the situation and is unable to recount what happened. When Orlick attempts to kill Pip in Chapter 53, Dickens writes, “After a blank, I found that I was lying unbound, on the floor, in the same place, with my head on some one’s knee,” (457). This occurs a few other times, such as the capturing of Magwitch in Chapter 54 or the fire incident at Miss Havisham’s in Chapter 48, which clearly disables the reader from fully understanding the occurrences of the situation.

The clear distortion of the novel by embellishment and first person narration leads to a less effective story with loose ends and false pretences. Although the novel is hailed for its realism, personal distortion is responsible for the imperfectness in Great Expectations.


message 25: by Ray (new)

Ray Hootman | 7 comments Ray Hootman
Period 2

In his novel, Great Expectations, Charles Dickens uses the element of distortion to advance the plot and to portray a deeper meaning. In utilizing distortion over literary realism, Dickens creates dimension society and in his characters. This advances the story by constructing an element of suspension that keeps the audience interested, which is achieved by keeping the reader and many of the characters in the dark. One of the biggest secrets in this novel is Pip's mysterious benefactor. Mr. Jaggers says, "Now you are to understand...that the name of the person who is your liberal benefactor remains a profound secret" (146). Because of this distortion, Pip and the reader are led to believe it is Miss Havisham who was making his "fortune on a grand scale" (146). This advances the plot and makes the novel more effective. Another element of distortion in the plot is Miss Havisham's past. One can infer that she was to be married and was left at the alter because of her wedding dress and her raising of Estella as a heartbreaker. The distortion is cleared when we learn that the man who "pursued Miss Havisham closely, and professed to be devoted to her" (189) was Compeyson. These secrets make the novel effective in interesting the reader and creating a suspenseful plot.

Dickens also uses distortion to show the dichotomy between the upper and lower class. Through Pip's relationships with Estella and Biddy, one can actually see commentary on class inequality and unequal wealth distribution. Pip idolizes Estella and starts to resent his upbringing because of this. Pip reflects on this by saying, "when I got into my little bedroom, I was truly wretched, and had a strong conviction on me that I should never like Joe's trade. I had once like it, but once was not now" (111). This shows that the slightest taste of wealth was so drastically better compared to a common life that it can cause one to turn on their past. Dickens also writes, "Miss Havisham and Estella and the strange house and the strange life appeared to have something to do with everything that was picturesque" (116). This reveals how the rich were seen as superior and the poor were seen as inferior. The distortion that Dickens utilizes in his novel is effective because it provides a deeper meaning to an otherwise regular story. In juxtaposition to Estella being rich, beautiful, and rude, Biddy is kind, smart, and poor. Pip comments, "She was not beautiful-she was common and could not be like Estella-but she was pleasant and wholesome and sweet tempered" (132). In picking Estella over Biddy, Pip was blinded by money. He knew that Biddy had good intentions, where he couldn't say the same for Estella, which conveys the wealthy's seniority to common folk. In using the element of distortion, Charles Dickens presents a novel that is effective in infatuating the audience and displaying layers and dimension through commentary on class inequality.


message 26: by Devan (new)

Devan Nagy | 7 comments Devan Nagy
Period 2

In writing fiction, authors are constantly faced with the decision of choosing to use distortion or literary realism to convey a theme present in the plot. The distortion of elements in a novel can often help reveal a message the author is trying to communicate to the reader. As Flannery O’Connor stated, “it is the only way to make people see.” In the book Great Expectations, Charles Dickens distorts the condition of Mrs. Havisham and Estella in order to make a statement about social classes.

Mrs. Havisham’s actions are distorted throughout the story. With the events of her failed attempts of marriage with Compeyson, she develops strong feelings of hate toward the subject. Pip describes how “everything within [his] view which ought to be white, had been white, and had lost its luster, and was faded and yellow. [He] saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress” (57). The withering of Mrs. Havisham due to her failed relationship with Compeyson would indeed be saddening from a literary realism perspective, however, in the story this love she had for Compeyson was quickly turned around into hate. Her bold and violent actions in the years that follow are the result of Dickens’ use of distortion. The reader can gather the knowledge that one’s high social standing does not truly buy pure happiness, as displayed from Mrs. Havisham’s hateful attitude toward love resulting from her past. This distortion strongly affects the plot through other elements and characters. She raised Estella to grow to be insensitive toward the topic of love when it came to other men, such as the damaging of Pip’s feelings for her. Therefore, the distortion of Mrs. Havisham’s actions of hate show the reader how negatively it can influence one’s life.

Dicken’s also distorts the love Pip holds for Estella. Due to Estella’s high social standing, Pip admires the lifestyle Estella possesses. Seeing this, Estella takes advantage of Pip’s passion for her and puts herself above him, giving him little respect. When pip described her, he said she was “beautiful and self possessed; and she was as scornful of [him] as if she had been one and twenty, and a queen” (55). Dickens distorts the level of superiority one would feel towards another in order to prove a point of attitudes toward social status. Estella is aware that she is wealthier than Pip, and so she acts disrespectful and rude to him. Dickens is therefore displaying the effects of difference in social class. Pip’s passion for Estella is also distorted. He says that he “loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be” (232). Pip loves Estella despite how she treats him. It is unrealistic for one to be infatuated with another when they are not receiving any love in return. Therefore, Dickens distorts Pip’s love for Estella in order to state that people tend to fall in love with the idea of others due to their social standing. Through these distortions, themes of wealth and love are identified, which makes the novel stronger.


message 27: by Alec (new)

Alec | 7 comments Alec Farmer
Per 2

Storytelling is one of the most important art forms of humankind; it can be used to entertain, educate, or just describe an event. The effect of a story is determined by the literary choices taken by the author. Two of these which sit in opposition to each other are realism and distortion. While much of Charles Dickens’ work relies on realism he does utilize distortion throughout his novels. One chief example of this can be seen in his novel Great Expectation. While this novel is heavily known for its realism, as seen with lines such as “the shameful place, being all asmear with filth and fat and blood and foam”, Dickens is able to utilize distortion to help the reader connect with the characters (Dickens 157). This task is achieved as the author is able to distort the characters emotions. Two of the most prominent cases of this are with Pip and Miss Havisham’s emotion of fear.

Pip constantly finds himself anxious and fearful for present events, and also for what effects these may have on his future. Now the emotional distortion that is used here is a bit extreme as he becomes very fearful and anxious for small decisions, and he demonstrates a form of hyper-fear when it comes to more serious situations. Early in the novel Pip learns he has received wealth and property in London. As Pip leaves his small town he describes “that in a moment with a strong heave and sob I broke into I broke into tears. It was by the finger-post at the end of the village, and I had laid my hand upon it, and said, “Good-by O my dear, dear Friend!”, while many people may feel nostalgia for the places they lived, it very rarely comes down to them physically shouting goodbye to their old home (Dickens 153). What this exchange is able to do though is make this emotion so over the top that the reader feels a stronger connection with Pip as he says goodbye to his home. This allows the reader to connect with Pip in a deeper way. Later in the novel Miss Havisham catches on fire and runs towards Pip; however, Pip’s version of the event is a bit dramaticized “I saw a great flaming light spring up. In the same moment, I saw her running at me, shrieking, with a whirl of fire blazing all all about her”, now while this instance may have been quite frightening, this description is written as if it’s about a monster in a horror novel (Dickens 386). But what this distortion does is to help accentuate the terror as to where the reader is scared for Pip, and through the use of distortion it creates a stronger emotional connection to Pip.

Miss Havisham is another character whose fear’s appear distorted when brought to the written medium; however unlike Pip, her fears are more reliant upon letting go of the past. Her fear of moving on is constantly put on display by Dickens; “her watched had stopped at twenty minutes to nine, and that a clock in the room had stopped at twenty minutes to nine”, “that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress” both of these instances, along with her refusal to leave her home, show the extremity to which Miss Havisham went to protect herself from the future (Dickens 56). While her fiance leaving may have been a devastating event, staying in the same wedding dress, allowing nothing to be changed in her home, and having all of the clocks stopped seems a touch overdone and distorted. And yet it works to Dickens’ advantage as now this character and her home have become a symbol for the past, and what happens when one becomes unwilling to move on. Thus while literary realism can function as a way to detail the harsh realities or the wonders of life, it is through distortion that the reader can truly connect with these characters and their experiences. By overselling certain emotional scenes it can create stronger feelings, and with it stronger emotional ties.


message 28: by Veronica (new)

Veronica (veeleen) Veronica Nation, period 1

Literary realism is a technique many novelists approach, being one of the most concrete ways to state description in writing. By definition, distortion is completely different than realism; it gives misleading impression rather than truth. In Great Expectations, author Charles Dickens uses literary distortion to enchant his readers and show effective illustration whilst remaining great and original. The use of distortion rather than realism gives a fantasy-esque tone and gives the reader more hope to rely on, as they cling to the illusion and deception of the novel.

In using distortion, Charles Dickens takes many approaches, one of the first being the title of the book itself. Though not exactly writing, it shows that the reader will be “expecting something great” to happen, in more senses of the words than one. Another well-explored distortion would be that the reader is distracted by the mystery of the secret benefactor, a recognizable feature in Dickens’ writing. Pip says, unaware of his benefactor's identity, “But if he [Magwitch] had looked at me for an hour or for a day, I could not have remembered his face even afterwards having been more attentive.” (pg. 41 ) This shows the reader yet another unclear moment as the reader does not know what to think of Pip quite yet. The distortion has the reader following the book page after page hoping for some truth and comprehensible content. Furthermore, the fairy-tale-like tone of the book seems to be one gone wrong, as the gruesome deaths, abuses, and convictions are not the “great expectation” a reader would imagine. The reader is most likely used to the uplifting retells of dark fairy-tales (think Hansel and Gretel), that they always expect happy endings to come out of every misfortune; this is the biggest illusion Dickens has created in his story. Many of Dickens’ characters are fantastical; think of Miss Havisham, when Herbert Pocket describes her, “That girl [Estella] is hard and haughty and capricious to the last degree, and has been brought up by Miss Havisham to wreak revenge on all the male sex” (pg. 186). Dickens’ characters have substance and the reader often questions their realness, stemming off of past thoughts and future predictions.

Through many abstractions and turns of events, Dickens’ throws the readers off, asking them to question so much of the book as a result of its brilliant writing. The messages it sends are real, adding just that bit of concreteness the reader is begging for. Dickens’ distinctive use of literary distortion is clever and vivid, creating a lasting effect on millions of people across the globe.


message 29: by Rose (new)

Rose Cobb | 8 comments Rose Cobb. Period 2.
The use of stark literary realism, while effective when employed by a particularly skillful writer, is not a universally positive device when crafting a story. This is because distortion, more often than not, is a way to create emphasis within a narrative that when told from an entirely objective position in a story can fall rather flat. One reason for this is because in order to establish a realistic narrator, particularly from a first or close third point of view, it is imperative to explore the subjectivity of their perspective to establish them as multi-dimensional. Besides expanding the position of narrator, subjectivity and distortion can prove to be extremely useful in establishing other important elements of story such as a hierarchy of themes, characters, symbols, and plotlines. Often, a story that approaches every event and detail it contains with an analytical and unbiased comes off as fairly one not. To provide distortion, however minute, is often directly equivalent to the implementation of emphasis. Characters that can be seen as unimportant will be supplemented with allure, symbols that once may not have stood out to the discretion the reader are highlighted. Much of this can be attributed to a healthy usage of distortion, as it is hard to ignore the seemingly out of place. This is particularly useful in Dickens' writing, as his detail oriented, drawn out style can at times be overwhelming, and make it difficult to differentiate things that are delivered with subtlety. One thing that is delivered far more clearly due to his use of emphasis is the theme of wealth disparity. The way Pip views both wealth and the wealthy is considerably inflated and exaggerated, establishing its importance from the get go.

This is particularly notable through the lens of Characters Ms. Havisham and Estella. Ms. Havisham is initially depicted as very mysterious, or perhaps bizarre. She is clad all in white and surrounded by a flurry of dilapidated luxury and stopped clocks (88). For one, this can be interpreted to symbolize the obsessive fixation of wealth and it's preservation, the ways in which people will seek to bend time in order to maintain some semblance of wealth despite the constant and often unpredictable flux of its nature. This is also a particularly strong use of distortion. If it weren't for the odd nature of this setting, one might not find it to be particularly notable, and thusly miss an important leading to the theme of this novel. Another way he emphasizes this theme is through the distortion of characters, and the dynamics depicted between them. This is most present in the relationship between Estella and Pip, because while his fixation on her is recognizably nonsensical, it remains present and prevalent throughout the duration of the work(142). The illogical nature of this calls to light the fact that her character is not merely a person, but a representation of an intrinsic and suffocating desire to achieve and maintain status. Without distortion, this theme, and many others would be not only muddled, but perhaps indistinguishable altogether.


message 30: by Rose (new)

Rose Cobb | 8 comments Elise wrote: "Elise Todd
Period 2

Throughout Pip's life, he looks upon his new surrounding with much fear. One could make the agrument that he is much too fearful of his environment and those in it. However, hi..."


As far as the use of Pips fear within the plot goes, I personally interpreted this to be merely a character trait rather than an instance of distortion. I think that while it can come off as situationally excessive, that anxiety when implemented as a character trait is fairly reasonable. Still, I think that this is an interesting case, as I didn't necessarily consider Pip's characterization to be an important part of a Dickens' distortion, and it is an interesting thing to consider.


message 31: by Jacob (new)

Jacob Schwartzberg | 7 comments Jacob Schwartzberg

Distortion can be found throughout the entirety of "Great Expectations," from Pip's recounting of his own actions to other characters distorting information for both Pip's benefit and his damage. However, Charles Dickens masterfully balances out the distortion that he created with literary realism.

The ideas of distortion and realism seemingly cant mix, as one makes the truth unclear, and one makes the truth very easily distinguishable. However, these two techniques used in "Great Expectations" compliment one another nicely. In the novel, Dickens utilizes distortion as a drama enhancing device. By distorting and exaggerating the story, the reader is sucked in more. However, Dickens uses just the right amount of realism to make sure that the reader can understand the plot and still be hooked in.


message 32: by Chiara (new)

Chiara | 7 comments Chiara Walz
In literature authors often use distortion and realism to make people look at something in a certain way. In Great Expectations, Charles Dickens uses distortion to exaggerate certain points and characters. One character that is distorted is Pip.The novel is told through Pip’s view, so the story is distorted to Pip’s perspective. When a story is told through a character, it sides with their views, therefore it will be slightly distorted from the truth. “Whenever I watched the vessels standing out to sea with their white sails spread, I somehow thought of Miss Havisham and Estella; and whenever the light struck aslant, afar off, upon a cloud or sail or green hill-side or water-line, it was just the same. Miss Havisham and Estella and the strange house and the strange life appeared to have something to do with everything that was picturesque.” This quote from Pip shows what his train of thought is and how he feels, which is not something a different character could portray as well. Dickens purposely writes it from Pip’s perspective, because he wants the readers to feel with him.

Besides distorting Pip’s point of view, Charles Dickens also distorted Pip as a character. In Great Expectations Pip dreams of becoming a rich gentleman, but in reality he is only a normal guy. Eventually, Pip understands that his fantasy was based on untrue assumptions. His relationships were not as they seemed; his life was partly alluded. “Miss Havisham's intentions towards me, all a mere dream; Estella not designed for me; I only suffered in Satis House as a convenience, a sting for the greedy relations, a model with a mechanical heart to practice on when no other practice was at hand; those were the first smarts I had.” Pip realizes things were not exactly as he thought and this is when he could see through some of the distortion. As Flannery O’Connor wrote, “I am interested in making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe that it is the only way to make people see.”, and that’s exactly what Dickens did in Great Expectations.


message 33: by Caitie (new)

Caitie Smith | 5 comments Caitie Smith Period 2
Many authors when writing a novel are faced with the challenge of choosing to write with either literary realism or distortion. Charles Dickens decided to go down the path of distortion for his novel Great Expectations. This was a correct choice for Dickens to make based on the themes and ideas of the novel, along with the tone and unfortunate events that happen to take place. Two major ways in which Dickens shows distortion in his novel is through Pip and his love for Estella, and Miss Havisham as a character throughout the story.

Pip falls in love with Estella, a women from the upper class who is bitter and cold on the outside, and not afraid to show her ways of breaking men's hearts and leaving them behind with no misery. Pip also loves Biddy, a women who was from the lower class who didn't have the bitter outside Estella did. Although Pip knew it wasn't necessarily the right choice of mind, he loved Estella more. “Biddy was never insulting, or capricious, or Biddy to-day—and somebody else to-morrow; she would have derived only pain, and no pleasure, from giving me pain; she would far rather have wounded her own breast than mine. How could it be, then, that I did not like her the much better of the two?” (130-131). This situation from the novel is a perfect example of distortion. Pip loves Estella's level of social class and therefore feels stronger for her, distorting the idea that social class is what humans fall in love with. Estella also knows she has more money than Pip and treats him with disrespect. This is distortion in the novel as well because it is, essentially, harder for humans to love someone so strongly when they are treated so poorly. Though, Estella does love Pip despite how she treats him; he receives little to no love in return. Due to these distortions between Pip and Estella themes of love and wealth occur creating a stronger story for the reader.

Miss Havisham is another great example of Distortion in the novel Great Expectations, with her unwillingness and fear to move on. Miss Havisham was left at the alter, a memory which scarred her for life. She refuses to leave her home, a huge distortion of human actions; she's protecting herself from the future. Her fear of moving on from her first love and heart break is a distortion in the novel due to the fact that humans move on after time (even if its a long time), and she never does. Miss Havisham develops strong feelings of hate towards the entirety of the subject, a feeling which is distorted. Thus, while literary realism can create realer situations of the harsh realities of life for the reader, distortion creates stronger feelings that the reader can personally connect with, therefore making the novel stronger a whole.


message 34: by John (new)

John Bickle | 7 comments John Bickle
Period 1

In literary realism, an author uses explicit and often concise details to reveal truths about characters, plots, and themes. While realism generally works to reveal such details in literature, another technique to achieve that goal is distortion. Distortion, despite essentially being the opposite of realism, can do just as much to impart facts upon readers. As Flannery O’Connor states, distortion can sometimes be “the only way to make people see.” Charles Dickens, in his Great Expectations, employs distortion to great effect, using the technique to reveal deep truths about society through the lens of a poor boy named Pip, who has great expectations for what his future life will hold. His expectations are distorted, though, adding a mysterious and hopeful element to the work, greatly furthering the messages Dickens tries to impart on the reader.

The biggest lens through which distortion is used in the novel is Pip, who has two major distorted views. Firstly, Pip’s views on wealth and the life of a gentleman. In his youth, Pip dreams of becoming a gentleman. When the opportunity comes upon him to visit the house of the wealthy Miss Havisham, he meets Estella. Taken by her beauty, Pip tries all he can do to impress her. Pointing out “what course hands he has!” and his “thick boots,” though, Estella is repulsed by Pip’s common nature (62). At this point, Pip admits that although he never noticed them before, he now considers his hands to be “a very indifferent pair” (62). This is the start of his obsession with becoming a gentleman. Living lavishly after attaining his great fortune, Pip has grown to dislike Joe, his previous best friend, for his poor manners and common lifestyle, even going as far as to say that “if [he] could have kept him away by paying money, [he] certainly would have paid money” (229). Pip is so obsessed with his distorted and exaggerated view of the life of a gentleman that he is repulsed by the idea of his good friend visiting him. However, once Pip’s expectations regarding Miss Havisham’s plans for him to marry Estella come crashing down, Pip realizes the mistakes he has made and the distortion with which he was viewing life. He wishes to return to the forge with Joe to his old life so that nothing would ever have happened between him and Estella, Miss Havisham, or his benefactor, Magwitch. Pip’s distorted view of what becoming a gentleman is like drives the story. Through these events, Dickens is able to show that no matter what happens in one’s life, good friends should always be held close. Dickens, through Pip, creates a mysterious story with questions surrounding Pip’s benefactor, all through the use of distortion.

The other major element that Pip has a distorted view on is his love for Estella. From the moment they met, Estella always treats Pip poorly. Overcome by her beauty, though, Pip loves her and wants more than anything in the world to be with her. Despite her mean attitude and constant reminders to Pip that she will never love him, Pip continues his efforts. Another character, Biddy, serves as almost the opposite of Estella; she is kind, sweet, and always good to Pip. Although he acknowledges the fact that Biddy treats him much better, and even says to himself, “What a fool you are!” for loving Estella over Biddy, Pip continues to do so. Pip loves Estella not for her personality but “simply because [he] found her irresistible” (245). He loved her “against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be” (246). His love is completely distorted simply because he finds Estella to be so attractive. Again, though, the story is driven through distortion, and Dickens' messages regarding the importance of good friendships are made quite clear. All-in-all, many of the most important elements of Great Expectations are fueled by distortion, and it is made abundantly clear that good friends are extremely important. All of this comes together to prove O’Connor’s point that sometimes, distortion is the only way to make people see.


message 35: by Mackenzie (new)

Mackenzie W-B | 8 comments Mackenzie W-B
Period 1

Within the context of a novel about stark contrasts of wealth, setting, and moral priorities, Dickens’ use of distortion in Great Expectations serves to enhance these themes as a way of making already opposing values even more stark. Many elements of the storyline mimic the dramatized attributes of a fairy tale, as the beginning of Pip’s story is almost overly coincidental for the purposes of framing a “rags to riches” narrative, and the distortion continues as the reader comes to understand Pip’s implausible ideas of wealth and happiness. Distortion is effectively used to amplify the themes in a way that has allowed them to be universal, and Great Expectations to stand as a long lasting emblem of great literature.
Pip’s ideals of wealth in comparison to poverty are a clear example of where distortion heightens themes of class status. Practically overnight, Pip is transformed from a poor son of a blacksmith to a city-dweller living in extravagant wealth. Dickens describes this transformation both in setting and means in a way that creates such a disparity between the “old” Pip with the “new” Pip that the reader is able to clearly see the point Dickens strives to make: that Pip’s ideas of wealth are ludicrous and idealistic, and this comes to be of great importance later on when Pip is imprinted with the idea that money can buy love and happiness. Pip explains, “I used to think, with a weariness on my spirits, that I should have been happier and better if I had never seen Miss Havisham's face, and had risen to manhood content to be partners with Joe in the honest old forge” (243). However, this quote implies that Pip was no longer satisfied with his old aspirations of happiness. With great wealth came “great expectations” no longer fit to the modest satisfaction of living with his beloved Joe, out of the way of the intimidating Miss Havisham’s influence. The effect of money is greatly distorted to the point where Pip believes money has literally changed his character and personal priorities for fulfillment.
Furthermore, setting is also distorted to drive home the theme of rich and poor being two seemingly opposing forces. Pip speaks of the “immensity of London” and has the idea that London is a gleaming city of opportunity (although upon arriving he decides that “London is decidedly overrated”). In contrast, his meager home in the country represents his lowly beginnings, and as soon as Pip moves to London he becomes extremely embarrassed of the environment in which he grew up.
In the words of Flannery O’Connor, distortion is “the only way to make people see.” This is particularly evident in Dicken’s novel, because without distorting the polars of wealth, the reader would have no idea the extent to which Pip was influenced by a skewed idea of class, and therefore the importance of class on happiness.


message 36: by Kate (new)

Kate Hartshorn | 7 comments Kate Hartshorn Period 1

In an effort to create compelling characters and plot in the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the author relies heavily on distortion as an alternative to literary realism. By creating emphasis on class and larger than life characters, Pip’s fascination with the upper class is more understandable to the reader.

Throughout the majority of the novel, Pip links wealth and class to a higher sense of being. His dreams of becoming a gentlemen are only inhibited by his current class, family, and a lack of greater opportunity. Upon gaining small entry into the lavish life he dreamed of, Pip begins to feel, “ashamed of home...now, it was all coarse and common, and (he) would not have had Miss Havisham and Estella see it on any account.” (99). Although Estella is “self-possessed” Pip is entranced by her and everything she represents to him. When Pip is given the option to be, “immediately be removed from his present sphere of life, and from this place, and be brought up as a gentleman- in a world, as a young fellow of great expectations.” (129), he jumps at it. Pip’s previous descriptions of his life and his “particular reasons for wanting to be a gentleman” (119) being explained as him being “not happy at all” and “digusted with (his) calling and with (his) life” (119), help to explain his ability to break all old ties for a new life. Pip’s distorted expectations of the upper class causing him to leap at a chance to change his situation before thinking about possible consequences.

Miss Havisham is arguably one of the strangest characters Dickens creates. When Pip first meets her, he says, “In an arm chair, … sat the strangest lady I have ever seen, or shall ever see… I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress… waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me.” (54). A bride left to wilt away in lost time and a dream of something long gone, she carries a sense of resentment towards the man that left her. Raising Estella to be wanted by men, but cold in the face of their many pursuits, avenges Miss Havisham’s loss. The distortion of her character through Pip’s descriptions and interactions compels an interest in her story. At the end of the novel, Miss Havisham’s confession that, “When she first came to me, I meant to save her from misery like my own… But as she grew… I stole her heart away and put ice in its place.” (371) brings many loose ends to a close. If a spotlight was not put on her character, Great Expectations would have been far less captivating. Dicken’s use of distortion in the novel allows for ruminations on class, and wealth that would not have existed with literary realism.


message 37: by Riley (new)

Riley Watson | 7 comments Riley Watson
Period 1

In literature, distortion and realism are popular tools used by authors to convey overall themes and messages. While both techniques are widely popular, they illustrate contrasting images to the reader. Literary realism helps the reader understand exactly and literally what is happening in a piece of writing. The use of distortion, however, provides a far less realistic scenario that is more representative of what a character may see in their head in an exaggerated manner. In his acclaimed novel, Great Expectations, Charles Dickens utilizes distortion to convey the book’s main theme that the protagonist explores throughout the story. The distorted descriptions and actions of some of Pip’s acquaintances such as Estella, Miss Havisham, and Magwitch show his perceptions of wealth and class as opposed to compassion and kindness.

Pip’s long-lasting love for Estella is one example of how he allows class to distort who he chooses to bring into his life. He finds Estella to be the most beautiful girl he has ever seen from early on the book, despite her innate talent in breaking men’s hearts. In Chapter 29, Pip describes his love for Estella, saying “The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. Once for all; I knew to my sorrow, often and often, if not always, that I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be” (216). Estella’s distorted persona of a perfect, beautiful, poised, yet evil girl seems to be te only driving force pushing Pip’s feelings for her. The girl’s mother, Miss Havisham, is another example of distortion carrying the book’s main theme. Dickens writes the character as an odd, depressing, almost gothic woman whose attitude, appearance, and surroundings seem incredibly over-the-top. Despite this, Pip continues to visit her home on several occasions, and nearly saves her life. Without trying too hard, she plays a pivotal role in the fluidity and structure of the story, although she is not necessarily a huge advocate for Pip. She herself calls him out for continuously expecting things out of his reach, saying “‘What has been my history, that I should be at the pains of entertaining either them or you not to have it so! You made your own snares. I never made them’” (334).
Abel Magwitch, on the other hand, is a convict who earns Pip’s trust by secretly acting as his benefactor. Though Pip is grateful for his fortune, he is dismissive of the unlikeliness of a convict such as himself being in possession of so much money in the first place. In describing their first encounter in years, Pip says “He laid his hand on my shoulder. I shuddered at the thought that for anything I knew, his hand might be stained with blood” (300). He is clearly fearful of what Magwitch’s intentions may be, but eventually welcomes him back into his life. Once again, the distortion of materialistic possessions appeals to the protagonist and carries him through the plot. Flannery O’Connor’s statement that distortion is the only way to make people see proves to be true in Dickens’ Great Expectations. While certain characters and situations may not be realistically written, they showcase some of the narrator’s inner thoughts and motives.


message 38: by Grace (new)

Grace Burns | 3 comments Grace Burns, Period 2
Within great novels, authors use both literary techniques to contribute to the effectiveness of the work. Two differing concepts are distortion and Literary realism. Both of which can create strong points and aspects of the book, but Great Expectations by Charles Dickens would not be the same without the distortion of the important elements within the novel. Distortion is defined as, “a change, twist, or exaggeration that makes something appear different from the way it really is,” while literary realism is defined as, “the attempts to represent familiar things as they are.” Within the novel, Charles Dickens purposely chooses distortion within his novel to emphasise important elements and ideas of his plotline and characters. Dickens does this to better entertain his audience as a way to dramatize the events, so the reader has to think more about what's occurring other than it just being given to them. Overall, the story is about the development of one's identity and how their decisions have affected them socially rather than a on a personally level. Through discovering one's true identity, distortion and confusion occur and this novel wouldn't be the same without it.
Through the literally writing of distortion, themes are presented, these being affection, loyalty, conscience, wealth, class, and an overall action of self-improvement. The novel follows the young protagonist Pip, in his search for self- improvement, love, and his relationship with social class. Pips behavior begins to lose high moral standards, eventually resulting in personal loss. He realizes that his “great expectations” are blurred and want he actually wants in life has been distorted, he works to achieve a reasonable and real identity again. “I wished Joe had been rather more genteelly brought up, and then I should have been so too.” This quote displays that pip wished his parents were better off, and then he would be too. Which is a blurred way to look at the world because we have to work with want we have.
Throughout the book Pip struggles with self identity and what he wants in life vs what he needs. The distorted aspect of the novel allows scenes and conversations to sound more dramatic resulting in the audience to be more engaged and entertained.


message 39: by Maxwell (new)

Maxwell Ryan | 5 comments There are many cases in Great Expectations where there is distortion used to push the mood, and the realism sits comfortably behind it. For example, Pip and his existence with Joe and Mrs. Joe is at first painted with a dark and cold feeling, living on the marshes with bread for dinner every night, and a strict mother who kept a watchful eye and a heavy hand on the main character. As soon as Pip meets Estella at Miss Havishams, his opinion of himself changes, and he becomes unhappy with his life on the marshes as a blacksmith, resenting Joe for his lack of intellect, and even giving up on Estella for a brief moment in pursuit of Biddy before he comes into his wealth from Magwitch. The distortion is in several places, for as soon as he becomes wealthy, Pip obviously expects it to be Miss Havisham supplying him with the wealth, being the main thing that was distorted. Also the close relation of all of the characters, made the payoff of waiting to find all of this out til well past the halfway point of the novel, much more interesting and compelling, thanks to the distortion.

Had Miss Havisham been behind the money and had Molly and Magwitch not been Estellas parents, the story would have had no satisfying payoff or conclusion. The realism of pips strong feelings for Joe, while simultaneously feeling ashamed of him were the only compelling narrative to me until I found all of this out, and all of the other interest and mystique came from my being wrong in guessing the same as Pip, that Miss Havisham was behind it trying to get Estella and Pip together, and the outcome was clever and unexpected thanks to the distortion put in place by Dickens, though the realism has its own compelling narrative, Pip describes his feelings in detail about Joe and Biddy throughout the novel, and I as the reader almost hated Pip in his slow transition of choosing cold and heartless over pure sweetness and family, but that wasn’t enough without the much needed twists.


message 40: by Estee (new)

Estee | 5 comments Estee Dechtman
Period Two

Distortion and literary realism are highly debated methods of writing when it comes to fiction. Literary realism has an effect that is accurate and true to the given circumstances of the plot, character’s motivation, and the time period. Distortion allows the author to go into further details and exaggerate the facts. As said by Flannery O’Connor distortion, “ is the only way to make people see.” Charles Dickens’s novel, Great Expectations is exemplary in its use of distortion and its ability to captivate its audience. Throughout the novel, Dickens specifically uses distortion when discussing the elements his unique characters. By using the aspects of distortion, Dickens gives insight towards the absurd standards of society and characterization.


Dickens writes, “I never had one hour’s happiness in her society, and yet my mind all round the four and twenty hours was harping on the happiness of having her with me unto death.” (280) The distortion and exaggeration exemplified in this depiction of Pip’s feelings towards Estella. Despite Estella’s emotional tax and abuse of Pip, he puts that aside and solely focuses on the good. Literary realism would prove that Estella’s actions were hurtful, but in Pip’s distorted view of the upperclass, he manages to exaggerate the actions that make him feel valued rather than unwanted.

The distortion in how people and classes are perceived helps Dickens to drive home his over arching themes. Distortion is used to show social classes and their systemic breed. Pip’s distortion of Estella’s character shows the desperate mindset of an outsider wanting to be let into the upperclass. Dickens effectively communicates his themes by highlighting, exaggerating, and allowing for great expectations in each of his characters.


message 41: by Tanner (new)

Tanner Gardner | 7 comments Tanner Gardner
Period 1
While realism has its merits in the world of literature, distortion, when used correctly, can aid in immersing the reader much deeper into the text. Charles Dickens showcases an extremely strong use of distortion as a literary strategy in his novel Great Expectations. Because the story is being told from the perspective of Pip, distortion is prominent throughout the entire book. However, Pip's distortion does not hinder the story, as it deepens the characterization of the novel- especially Pip's.

Pip's use of distortion further shows the reader his obsession with becoming a gentleman, and advancing to a higher class. He laments his situation to Biddy by saying, "I am not at all happy as I am. I am disgusted with my calling and with my life" (119). Pip utilizes distortion in this statement which shows the reader his strong desire to become a gentleman. Pip continues to use distortion in his narration near the beginning of the novel when he returns to find the young convict in the marshes, he explains how fearful he was, by stating "I dare say I should have felt a pain in my liver, too, if I had known where it was.” this shows the reader the depth of Pip's knowledge, and proves that Pip isn't well educated by Mr. Wopsle and his great aunt.

Dickens also uses distortion in Pip's love of Estella, as throughout the novel Pip goes into great depth and detail to describe the intensity of his love for Estella. In chapter 44, Pip confesses his love to Estella by telling her, "You are part of my existence, part of myself. You have been in every line I have ever read, since I first came here, the rough common boy whose poor heart you wounded even then. You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since - on the river, on the sails of the ships, on the marshes, in the clouds, in the light, in the darkness, in the wind, in the woods, in the sea, in the streets" (405). Distortion is prevalent in this statement, which exaggerates Pip's desire to be with Estella and deepens the novel's characterization. Pip's perspective in Great Expectations adds a layer of distortion to the story, which adds more detail to the characterization in the narrative.


message 42: by Emma (last edited Jul 31, 2016 07:25PM) (new)

Emma Cohen | 7 comments Emma Cohen Per. 1
Literary realism in the victorian era of writing served as a stark contrast to the romantic texts that preceded it. This technique provided a sense of reality that revealed the truth about characters, themes, and life in the 19th century. Distortion, although quite dissimilar to realism, essentially has the same effect. It enables the reader to find truth within a novel without it being thrust upon them.

Although Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is known as a primarily realist text, Dickens uses distortion to entice the reader and further the plot of the novel. The best example of his use of literary distortion are Pip’s encounters with the convict who he later comes to know as Magwitch. Pip’s first encounter with Abel Magwitch takes place in the graveyard where his parents are buried. This scene portrays an erie sense of “the marsh country” and the bleakness of the churchyard with its “overgrown with nettles” (pg 1). The distorted description of the graveyard and Pip’s encounter with Magwitch set it apart from the rest of the novel. Dickens’ use of literary distortion is seen once again when Pip, Joe, and Mr. Wopsle are having a drink at a bar. He notices a strange man (Magwitch) sitting adjacent to them who stirred his rum “not with a spoon that was brought to him, but with a file” (pg 74). Magwitch and Pip’s encounter defies the readers expectations that both Joe and Mr. Wopsle would take notice of the convict.

The distorted way in which Dickens portrays Pip’s interactions with Magwitch allow the reader to recognize them as events that do not appear in realistic fiction. They bring the focus away from the bland encounters that Pip has between his sister, Joe, or Miss Havisham and towards a story of a poor boy and his wish to become a gentleman.


message 43: by Talia (new)

Talia Gordon | 7 comments Talia Gordon, Period 1

Charles Dickens' Great Expectations is in many ways a master class in the use of literary distortion- the intentional portrayal of images and events in a manner that may come off as confusing and highly implausible (one might say unrealistic), a very literal distortion of the reader’s reality- in that the novel is a constant exercise in both coincidence and timing. Dickens chooses to change the way that time passes in order to make his chain of events reasonable, and in doing so abandons literary realism as so to lend the novel some sort of credence instead of creating deliberate confusion.

Time is a strange beast in Great Expectations. One-hundred and fifty pages into the novel, which happens to be approximately one fourth of the way through the book, Pip has only just finished his dealings with convicts and is still living with his Mr. and Mrs. Joe Gargery. He has just begun to contend with his sister’s injury and both the reader and Pip have no real knowledge of any impending expectations. In reading the novel, one feels originally as though this is in excess. Dickens has distorted time in such a way that convicts seem to have loomed over Pip’s childhood, though we know logically that they have not, and in fact assume they will have no bearing on both Pip’s present and future. The focus on these stories feels strange and disjointed, almost unnecessary. It drags.

Of course, it becomes evident later in the novel that Pip’s encounters with convicts were perhaps the most defining moments of his childhood, and what once seemed out of place suddenly gains new importance. What appeared unrealistic suddenly takes on a hyperrealism that thrusts the story into motion, and an awkward opening scene puts the entirety of the story into perspective. Dickens is a master at literary distortion not because he uses it, but because he utilizes it to make the story more effective, to grant the reader a better understanding of the meaning found in seemingly unrelated events.


message 44: by Jenna (new)

Jenna Eisenberg | 7 comments Jenna Eisenberg
Period 1

Pip has big hopes of becoming a wealthy, valued, knowledgeable nobleman and pursuing the heart of the unkind but picturesque Estella. Similar to people who want wealth and fame in reality, Pip’s vision turns out to be unrestrainedly distorted through the novel as he learns that his dreams were founded on untruthful expectations. The issue is that Pip wants to be successful for his personal gratification, not for the gratification of other people. Missing a past and an identity, he can transform into any being he chooses to be. One instance is the chaotic Christmas dinner at the beginning of the story when Mr. Hubble tells Pip that children are “wicious” (26). In chapter seventeen, Pip demonstrates this generalization, “See how I am going on. Dissatisfied, and uncomfortable, and-what would it signify to me, being coarse and common, if nobody had told me so!”(139). Here he associates obliviousness with innocence. It is inferred to Pip continually that he acts unmindful, and should try everything to fix his errors.

Pip’s character is generally harmless, however, his development into adulthood resulted in a distortion of his character and identity. A widespread truth of social behavior is that human’s imitations of his or her own selves are commonly molded and influenced by how other people perceive them. Many times throughout the book, Pip’s character is challenged as the realism of society changes him into the man he needs to become. This is seen in our society today especially in the transition of children to teenagers, and teenagers into adulthood, and so on. Pip, in a way, acts as a symbol for maturity and finding identity.


message 45: by Kaeley (new)

Kaeley Cahill | 7 comments Kaeley Cahill Period 1


"Great Expectations" by Charles Dickens is full of distorted ideas. One scenario that stuck out the most while reading would be Pip's expectation for winning Estella's love. Pip believed that if he became a wealthy and respected man, he would would win Estella's heart. This plan though, did nothing but turn Estella's family against him and eventually force Estella to resent him. Pip states, "The unqualified truth is, that when I loved Estella with the love of a man, I loved her simply because I found her irresistible. [...] I loved her against reason, against promise, against peace, against hope, against happiness, against all discouragement that could be (29)." This statement is distorted because Pip is almost lustful towards her instead of actually being truly in love with her. He basically convinced himself that she is the "perfect human" (29) and creates this tunnel vision idea of his life with Estella. This "expectation" is also distorted because Pip thought that by completely changing the man he is and gaining materialistic objects would help him receive one of the most valuable, intangible objects people can posses.

This also connects to literary realism in many ways. In today's society, people believe that by having a certain reputation and being wealthy will get you all you need in life. People become obsessed with being "rich" and forget to focus on the way they treat others. Pip does the same when he gets completely wrapped up in the way Estella perceives him and in doing so lost his true identity. Pip lost all sense of who he was and ended up never getting the one thing he completely changed for, much like people have done in today's society.


message 46: by Simone (new)

Simone Elkins (princechrom) | 6 comments Distortions occur in many medias. Distortion in music can be created using pedals or software, while distortion in artwork can be achieved with water or even finger smudges. In literature, distortion comes from the narrator and their perceptions. Across the novel, the narrator and main character of Pip has many distorted perceptions of which he shares with the reader. The most prominent of which is the perception of his benefactor. Miss Havisham’s favoring of Pip leads him to such a perception, distorting his overwise natural tendency toward being inquisitive. Upon the discovery of the person truly responsible for his fortune, Pip’s distorted reality is completely thrown away from him, increasing the rapid downhill of the story near the ending.
This distortion itself is created by the ripple of another. Abel Magwitch was given his own distorted perception of gentlemanly kindness to begin with. Magwitch has a very distorted notion about how to go about repaying the tiny kindness Pip showed him out of fear at such a young age. Distorted and off putting is the way Magwitch treats Pip upon meeting him in person, with such utterances as calling Pip “his gentleman.” Magwitch and Pip are very similar in their ignorance or definition of being a gentleman, as neither is quite how it should be or how it is expected. These ripples of distortions are frequent throughout the novel, and contribute to its complexity, as twisted as it may be.


message 47: by Katie (last edited Jul 31, 2016 11:59PM) (new)

Katie Luchtenburg | 7 comments Mr. Eric Mills wrote: "In questioning the value of literary realism, Flannery O’Connor has written, “I am interested in making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe that it is the only way to make peo..."

“Great Expectations” by Charles Dickens was originally published as a “year round” novel, piece by piece. Dickens primarily did this not only to share his work and the importance of the messages it held, but to financially profit from the pieces of his novel as well; this required the reader to be captivated. Although I have read many a realistic novels and been captivated by what they contained, I have more often found myself enchanted with that which seems so fantastical and yet practically plausible, as it breaths life into the otherwise harsh realities. In using literary realism along with distortion in “Great Expectations”, Charles Dickens accomplishes capturing the audience through fairy-tales elements and imaginative commentary that also deeply delves into wide felt themes of abuse, loss, guilt, love, and most importantly social status. Through the bizarre elements, Dickens captures these themes and leaves a stab wound in the heart of the reader that is deeper than they anticipate. He is also able to paint a picture of young Pip's transformation of identity and wealthy by using distorted elements.


Dicken's uses a gentle breeze of fantasy, similar to that which you would see in folklore or fairy tales to enchant and distort his text in a gently impactful way. He uses these fantastical elements to both alleviate and magnify Pip's troubles. These epic elements can be seen in Miss Havisham's decomposing mansion, Estella's enchanting mystic, and a wealthy benefactor whose appearance in the boy's life is all a matter of complete coincidence and bizarre chance. "So unchanging was the dull old house, the yellow light in the darkened room, the faded spectre in the chair by the dressing-table glass, that I felt as if the stopping of the clocks had stopped Time in that mysterious place, and, while I and everything else outside it grew older, it stood still" (221). In using these well distorted characters and scenarios, Dickens uses the novel as social commentary and allows for the moral to be crystal clear in the murky waters of his painted story. In the same way the tortoise and the hare teaches children that "slow and steady wins the race", Charles Dickens is successful in using Pip to criticize the culture fantasy that in England at the time regarding wealthy, social status and moral identity. "I am ashamed to say it," I returned, "and yet it's no worse to say it than to think it. You call me a lucky fellow. Of course, I am. I was a blacksmith's boy but yesterday; I am—what shall I say I am—to-day?” (440).


message 48: by Rebekah (new)

Rebekah Nichols | 7 comments Rebekah Nichols, Per. 2

In Charles Dickens "Great Expectations" it is evident throughout the book that Dickens chooses to use distortion over literary realism. Many have criticized the confusing high-level language used throughout the book and in my personal opinion that is its own form of distortion when you understand and see witch through the eyes of an uneducated struggling man. By seeing the story through pips eyes we see only a small scope and small understanding of one person. As Pip developed throughout the story the meanings of many words in situations change. As Pip's perception grows and changes, distortion grows even more.

I find that the best example of distortion in the novel is in the first three or four chapters we were introduced to a young Pip. Distortion can be found through the way PIP do use his situations and his family life. It comes from a place of understanding his situation he knows where he is in life and it is almost sad at times how much the reader sees that Pip's excepted his life the way it is. In reading Pip's narration of his own life you almost view Pip as a young boy who lives a life that narrated through literary realism would be described as dull and hard but dice Pip's point of view is distorted by a scope of limited understanding the reader sees his life and others through a different life. This is evident for instance when Pip first meets Magwitch. Because Pip is so young, innocent and, almost ignorant at times the reader becomes afraid of the convict but in a very distorted way. Throughout the beginning chapters Magwitch becomes some what of a friendly face and begins to confide in pip. This form of dispersion manipulates the readers perception and understanding of the entire story and acts as a form of foreshadowing for later events in the book.

The effects of distortion in the beginning of the book leads through the rest of the book and covers all plots and characters. The most important element in "Great Expectations" to me is the point of view and understanding of Pip and when that in itself is distorted shows just how much thought Dickens put into using distortion over Literary realism.


message 49: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Alfrey-Bethke | 5 comments Sarah Alfrey-Bethke, Period 2
Distortion is used in this novel to obscure certain relationships between the characters until the moment is perfect for pip to learn of them, which helps forward the plot.
Many of the relationships between characters are distorted to appear different than they actually are, only the be reveals later in the novel. For instance, Pip's belief that Estella is going to be his bride. This belief fuels many of his actions and decisions for the beginning of the novel. When it is revealed that Magwitch, not Miss Havisham, is Pip's true benefactor, both the distortion of that relation and his belief that He is intended for Estella are crushed. This moves the plot of the story forward, and is a brilliant way to keep the audience enthralled. Other secrets such as Compeyson being the man who left Miss Havisham at the alter and Magwitch being Estella's father also serve to push the plot of the story forward when they are revealed.
The use of distortion to hide relationships between the characters until it is pertinent in the story to know them allows for the plot to continue to move forward as well as being a useful cliffhanger-type technique. It is very obvious why Great Expectations is widely considered the best of Charles Dickens' books.


message 50: by Gabby (new)

Gabby Wagstaff | 6 comments Mr. Eric Mills wrote: "In questioning the value of literary realism, Flannery O’Connor has written, “I am interested in making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe that it is the only way to make peo..."

Gabby Wagstaff
“I am interested in making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe that it is the only way to make people see.” In Charles Dickens' "Great Expectations" literary distortion accompanied by literary realism can be see throughout. By combining these two entirely different styles of writing Dickens is able to draw more attention from the reader and his story telling style is entirely unique. Although it can be argues that the story "Oliver" parallels with that which can be found in "Great Expectations" Charles Dickens creates a new story using a similar plotline by adding varying degrees of fantastical elements.

Some of the most interesting parts of this novel are those shrouded with fantasy, bordering on folklore. The entire idea behind the release of the prisoner and the mysterious benefactor is entirely unrealistic, but Dickens weaves these unrealistic aspects in such a way that he is still able to comment on corruption through money and interests the audience enough to continue. One of the most capturing fantastical elements is that of the stopped clocks, whose symbolism in the book goes beyond just the heart break of Miss Havisham and deeply touches the reader. "So unchanging was the dull old house, the yellow light in the darkened room, the faded spectre in the chair by the dressing-table glass, that I felt as if the stopping of the clocks had stopped Time in that mysterious place, and, while I and everything else outside it grew older, it stood still" (221).

By using fantastical elements, Charles Dickens distorts that which he wishes to emphasize the most. In doing this, the reader is either confused or captured, both of which inspire them to heavily focus on the ideas presented through distortion. He also uses wide, older English to entice the reader and get them to truly think about what those in the book are saying. "And what's the best of all," he said, "you've been more comfortable a longer me, since I was under a dark cloud, than when the sun shone. That's best of all" (713). The fusion of literary realism and distortion allows the reader to be more free thinking, the plot to thicken, and to entice those who pick up the book to finish it.


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