Language refers to the choices of style and vocabulary made by the author. When analysing the language Dickens uses you should think about:
Charles Dickens makes very specific use of language to help us understand and appreciate the plot, character and themes of Great Expectations.
Here are some examples of language choices which Dickens makes. Let's concentrate on character names and literary devices such as animal imagery.
Dickens chooses the names of his characters with care. For instance:
In some cases the sound of the name gives us an idea about the personality or appearance of the character. In these instances Dickens is using a technique called onomatopoeia.
Dickens wants the sound of his characters' names to reflect their personalities and to give an immediate idea of what they are like. So:
Dickens was famous for creating these unusual characters. So much so, that if a character from any novel has a name that reflects their personality it is said to be 'Dickensian'.
Imagery is the general term covering the use of literary devices which encourage us to form a mental picture in our mind about the way something or someone looks, sounds, behaves, etc. The language used often relates to one or more of our five senses.
Images of animals appear throughout the novel, forming a deliberate pattern. For instance:
When Magwitch is eating he is compared to a large dog, messy but powerful. Later when Pip eats food provided by Estella, he too feels like a dog. This image connects the two characters.
Dickens uses animal imagery about his characters when he wants to get the reader to understand:
Mr Pumblechook is described as having 'a mouth like a fish'. This simile helps us to understand that his mouth is large and opens and closes in a comical fashion.
He is also described as 'a windy donkey'. This metaphor tells us that he is stubborn and has too much to say for himself.
When Joe meets Miss Havisham he is described as 'like some extraordinary bird; standing as he did speechless, with his tuft of feathers ruffled, and his mouth open as if he wanted a worm.' This emphasises how shocked and out of place Joe is at this point.