Compare the openings of Charles Dickens\' "Great Expectations" and Paul Gallico\'s "The Snow Goose" comment upon the setting, characters, relationships, and use and style of language.





My first two paragraphs are brief biographies of the writers of these two great books. Following these, I will be comparing their settings, characters, relationships and language.


Charles Dickens was born at Landport near Portsmouth, Hampshire in 1812 on the 7th February. During most of his childhood he lived in either London or Kent, where there were naval dockyards, because his father being a clerk in the Naval Pay Office, needed to be close to his workplace. Although the Dickens family was not poor by a long way, by the standards of the time, they did live through a series of financial crises and difficulties. In 1823, facing financial ruin, the family moved to London. Charles\' father was imprisoned for debt for three months. At the age of fifteen Charles was forced to start working in a legal firm. Eighteen months later he quit that job and started work as a freelance reporter in the court of Doctors\' commons. After being married to his late wife, Maria Beadnell, for fifteen years and having ten children with her, Charles suffered a stroke at his home at Gad\'s Hill near Rochester on the 8th June 1870 and died tragically the next day.


Paul Gallico was born in New York in 1897. He was brought up by his Italian and Australian parents. He began working at the age of twenty-five as a sports editor for the "New York Daily News". In 1936 he left New York for England when he bought a new house on a hill in Salcombe, in South Devon. While living in Salcombe he collected a large family consisting of twenty-three assorted cats and a Great Dane, then in 1941 writes "The Snow Goose". This was not the only book he wrote, as he completed more than forty before he died in 1976.


In both of these "Great Expectations" and "The Snow Goose" the writers have described a marshland in the opening chapters. Both writers described the marshes in completely different ways. In "Great Expectations" the marsh is described as a disturbed, desolate dark place.


"The marshes were just a long, black, horizontal line…"


Pip has said how they are black, black is often associated with death, destruction and damnation. Pip then carries on to describe the whole picture of the marshes.


"…just a row of long, angry, red lines and dense black lines inter-mixed"


Pip clearly does not like the marshes, as he describes them as being "angry", "red" and densely "black". Black, as above, is associated with darkness, death, damnation, sadness and destruction. Pip also mentions red, we also associate red with evil and death, but on top of this we associate it with anger, danger and hatred. To add to this idea that the marshes are places of danger and destruction there is a gibbet placed nicely to one side.


"…a gibbet…which had once held a pirate. The man was limping on towards this latter, as if he were the pirate come to life, and come down, and going back to hook himself up again."


The man being described is the convict. Pirates are thought of as evil treacherous murderers and so the idea of having pirates that used to operate around the marshland area really helps to build his argument against it and show that the marshes are evil dangerous and ugly. This helps us to understand the feeling Pip has towards the marshland. This place, the marshland, has, in this book, no beauty to it, it is only shown as a baron, dark, ugly area and is nothing more than a distant savage lair for pirates and convicts alike.


In "The Snow Goose" however, the marshes are described as a tranquil, pure, untouched "wild place".


"It is one of the last of the wild places of England, a low, farreaching expose of grass and reeds…"


Just the way in which Paul Gallico has written his words very carefully tells us that this place is a place of beauty. He says that the marshes are "the last wild places of England" and so suggesting that nobody cares for the environment anymore and instead are destroying it.


"It is