Great Expectations and Brighton Rock

The novels “Great Expectations” and “Brighton Rock” concern themselves, at least initially, with a young male protagonist. These are among some of the most memorable characters in literature. Both Pip in “Great Expectations” and Pinkie in “Brighton Rock” are summoned to meet characters that are socially superior. These characters are both rich and threatening. The lexical choices made by Charles Dickens in “Great Expectations” when describing Pip’s first visit to Miss Havisham’s house create an apprehensive and threatening atmosphere.
The house is described as being made of “old brick” and having “many iron bars”. This creates an image of a prison, which overwhelms the young Pip. In “Brighton Rock”, Graham Greene places emphasis on the elegance and splendour of “The Cosmopolitan”. Greene creates the impression that Pinkie is totally overwhelmed by the magnificence of “The Cosmopolitan”, despite his protestations of the opposite. Both Pip and Pinkie are childish sounding names, which highlight the youth and inexperience of both characters. Pip does not understand the motives of Miss Havisham and Estella for summoning him to Satis house.
Pip is tricked into believing that Miss Havisham is his benefactor. Likewise Pinkie believes that he can scare Mr Colleoni but doesn’t realise that his gang is extremely small and insignificant when compared to the might of Colleoni’s gang. Pinkie is also tricked, as he believes that Colleoni will kill Spicer in an attempt to gain favour with Pinkie but Pip has overestimated Colleoni’s respect for him. Colleoni laughs when Pinkie reveals that he is the new leader of the gang. He refers to Pinkie as “my child” and dismisses him as a “promising youngster”.

Miss Havisham sees Pip as inferior as she commands him to “play” and sees him as a “diversion”. Both Miss Havisham and Estella patronise Pip; they refer to him as “boy”. Dickens uses imagery to great effect in his description of Miss Havisham and her room. Images of corpses and death are constantly evoked in the reader’s imagination as Dickens describes Miss Havisham’s “grave-clothes” and “sunken eyes”. This imagery is particularly noticeable when Pip describes his first impressions of Miss Havisham. Vocabulary such as “faded”, “withered”, “ghastly”, “skeleton” and “dark” is used.
This immediately makes the reader wary of her and creates curiosity as to what her intentions are towards Pip. She is presented as a ghost, living in the past. It appears that when her fianci?? left her she ceased to live fully. Therefore she has become a ghost, a ghost with a motive; to wreak havoc on men and to keep alive her bitterness over her lost lover. She seeks revenge on men through her adopted daughter Estella. Estella is, in a sense, Miss Havisham’s apprentice. She intends to be an upper-class lady but her naivety and inexperience, at this point, is too obvious to disguise.
For example, when given Mr Pumblechook’s name she is unsure of the correct response ad so replies “quite right”. Pip, though, sees Estella as a “candle in the darkness” as she carries the candle that guides him out of Miss Havisham’s home. The candle symbolises hope. Estella is the only thing in the Manor House that Pip is attracted to. Pinkie also attempts to disguise his inexperience. When describing Pinkie’s meeting with Mr Colleoni, Greene describes everything that is happening around Pinkie, “chimes of laughter”, the “chink of ice”, bitches whispering and men talking.
This creates an impression that Pinkie is extremely self conscious and insecure in these strange new surroundings. Colleoni, on the other hand, is described as “snug” and “at home”. This evokes a feeling that Pinkie is very uncomfortable in Colleoni’s presence yet Colleoni is at ease in his. Colleoni is presented as a debonair, affluent man. He is in control of the conversation; he never discloses any information that he does not want to, he never corrects himself or seems to want to know something.
He is perfectly comfortable allowing the conversation to wander in what ever direction Pinkie wants to take it, yet he controls the conversation whilst remaining at ease. He never presses Pinkie to answer him and everything he says has been carefully considered to give the exact effect he requires. Greene constantly reminds the reader of Colleoni’s affluence; he writes that “the armchairs are stately red velvet couches stamped with crowns in gold and silver thread” and that the lighter is “real gold”. Both writers have carefully chosen the names of the places in their books.
Greene calls the hotel, in which Pinkie meets Colleoni, the “Cosmopolitan Hotel”. “Cosmopolitan” implies “international” or “sophisticated”. By selecting this name, Greene once again emphasises the elegance of the hotel. The “international” meaning adds to the impression that the hotel overwhelms Pinkie. This is because Pinkie is used to living his life surrounded by local people that he knows and is not used to being in the midst of foreign strangers. Dickens uses an ironic name to make Miss Havisham’s home in Great Expectations unforgettable.
He calls it “Satis House”, which means “enough house”. This is ironic because, although the house seems to be all one would ever want, it is not. Miss Havisham is incomplete without her fianci??. She is described as being half dressed; Dickens demonstrates to the reader that she’s incomplete without her fianci??. She has realised that a house can never be “enough” to satisfy her. So it can be seen that the settings within the novels, and specifically in these sections, carefully reflect the nature of the owners and their impact on any outsiders who may be called upon to visit.

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