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June 22, 2024
Book Reviews

What is “deep reading” by analyzing the role of environmental description in Great Expectations

Dickens is one of my favorite writers. I have read “Great Expectations” since I was in high school and have read it no less than 20 times. After the first two times, I will no longer focus on the plot. Sometimes I will focus on the characterization of the author, and sometimes I will focus on the plot… This time I will focus on the role of environmental description in the work. Of course, this is not the result that can be obtained within a few days of the National Day. I just use these days to collate the results of many years of intensive cultivation. I hope to share with you and pay attention to the other aspect of the work.

We can learn a lot from a good work. For example, “Meet the Unknown Myself”, which we read this week, is a spiritual “chicken soup” best-seller. It is novel in the form of novel to carry the content, but from the perspective of novel, it is of little literary value, because its plot structure and characterization are not good enough, and its writing is not unique. It is bound to be only a best-seller of this era, It cannot be a classic that can stand the test of time. It is enough to “read” such works.

Great Expectations is Dickens’ later work and one of his most mature works. As an excellent novelist, Dickens is naturally a master of environmental description. The wonderful environmental description in the novel plays a finishing role in rendering the atmosphere, setting the mood of the characters, promoting the development of the plot, suggesting the ending of the story, deepening the theme, etc. The environmental description in Great Expectations mainly includes the description of social environment and natural environment. The subtlety of the author’s writing and its role can be analyzed from the following three points.

1、 The description of the natural environment of the marsh has a profound impact on Pip’s fate

The role of theme.

The book “Great Future” summarizes Dickens’ profound understanding of his life experience. One of his philosophical thoughts is the influence of environment on human thought. Although the theme of “Great Expectations” is diverse, the author also emphasizes in this work the theme of “different environments can make different people” that he has constantly emphasized in more than a dozen long works. Pip’s moral growth once again confirms the author’s philosophy. The swamp of Pip’s hometown is of symbolic significance. Dickens’ detailed description of the natural environment of the marsh in many parts of his works is meaningful. The marsh plays a role in deepening the theme of Pip’s destiny.

“Swamp” means a muddy area with dense water and grass. However, people generally have a negative impression on the marsh. The marsh makes people feel mysterious and dangerous. When they think of the marsh, they will appear in their minds that once they are trapped in the marsh, they will be trapped in endless mud. The more you struggle to move, the tighter the wet land will bind you. Dickens, in “Great Expectations”, has repeatedly focused on describing Pip’s hometown, the marshland of Rochester, Kent, to set off Pip’s ups and downs. The swamp seems to be just an environmental description, but from the perspective of environmental implication, you will find that there is a very subtle relationship between the swamp and Pip. Pip, like a man in a swamp, fell into the mire at the beginning, struggled in the mire, and finally climbed up again. The swamp is the best interpretation of Pip’s moral growth in his life.

“Our hometown is a swampy area. There is a river there.” At the beginning of the story, “I” introduced the place where I grew up. “My first and most vivid impression of insomnia seems to come from an unforgettable afternoon.” The author not only points out the place corresponding to the previous description, but also serves as a cushion for the later text, leaving a suspense for the reader. “When I stopped to follow his figure with my eyes, the whole marsh has become a long and black horizontal line, while the river has become another horizontal line, although it is not as wide and black as the former. “In the misty fog, it seems that I am not walking towards the target in front, but all the scenes in front are rushing towards me. For me with a sense of guilt, this situation is disgusting.” The innocent child was oppressed by the sense of guilt of stealing, and even when he saw a cow, he felt that the cow was condemning him, and kept on explaining to the cow that he was forced to steal things from home. The author deliberately portrays the pure heart of young Pip, which virtually foreshadows Pip’s return to goodness due to the influence of the environment and the moral quagmire.

At the beginning of the story, the author has three descriptions of the marsh (concentrated in the first chapter), all of which are different. For the first time, I wrote in depth and detail about the swamp and its surrounding environment, and also reflected Pip’s fear through the horror of the environment. When we re-entered the marsh for the second time, we found that the marsh was not as terrible as before, but still revealed a sense of mystery and urgency. Pip was condemning himself for stealing food. The author also used the description of the environment to let readers understand his inner feelings. For the third time, the author wrote Pip’s description of the swamp when he watched the patrol officer arrest the fugitive, which was very neat. It can be seen that the author’s description of the swamp environment changes with Pip’s inner changes. These are just hints at the beginning of Pip’s life journey. At this time, Pip is like a person who has just entered the swamp, confused by the mystery in front of him, and slowly moves forward into the swamp.

The place of Woolworths seems to be an escapist place created by Dickens for Wenmick. Wemmick in different environments seems to be a pair of twins, identical in appearance, but different in temperament, which once again confirms the theme of this work – the impact of environment on people.

The description of the environment in the novel does not exist in isolation. It always directly or indirectly serves to shape characters and reflect the main idea. Careful and careful appreciation and analysis of Dickens’ environmental description in his works will help us to understand the character characteristics of each character in the works more deeply, and also enable us to understand the work “Great Expectations” in a deeper and broader sense, taste the multiple themes in the work, and have a more comprehensive understanding of the British society in the Victorian era.

Based on my own reading experience over the years, I think that “scanning” and “model reading” can only make me have some random thoughts on the works at best, which are floating on the surface; Of course, more extensive reading and extensive reading can make me read more books and learn more new knowledge in a limited time, so that my knowledge is wide and broad. So even if I just take notes of the superficial random thoughts when I read and scan those books, I can accumulate more. These random thoughts can be connected horizontally and vertically, and can also write some thoughtful essays.

But to really make a qualitative leap in your writing level, you must “intensive reading” and “deep reading” (study) some classic works. We should not only explore the social background and theme of the author’s works, but also learn the author’s literary techniques and writing skills. If we see more, analyze more, and practice more frequently, we will form our own unique style and writing method.

The process of learning to write is like climbing a peak. The author of classic works is a giant. Only by standing on the shoulders of giants can we get closer to the peak we once looked up to.


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