Contrasting Settings in Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights

One of the ideas repeatedly emphasized in Wuthering Heights was the opposing settings of Thrusscross Grange manor and Wuthering Heights manor. One is quiet, reserved, pleasant and sickly, while the other chaotic, abrasive and barbaric. I notice a similar dichotomy in the settings introduced during the opening chapters of Great Expectations. Like Thrusscross Grange, Pip’s house is a sort of safe haven. Joe Gargary is a strong, wholesome and honest man who seems to be a positive influence on Pip. Pip’s sister, although she is harsh on Pip, she seems to provide slapstick comic relief, ie. threatening Pip and Joe with her cane, “Tickler” or with “the tar water.” The overall atmosphere created by these characters is comfortable and safe, which stands in stark contrast to the other setting, the marsh. Like Wuthering Heights manor, the marsh is a mysterious and dangerous place filled with desperate and terrifying men. In the same way that the stormy weather of Wuthering Heights contrasted with Thrusscross Grange’s peaceful meadows, the weather in Great Expectations is also telling in regards to the setting and plot. Notably, the mist of the marshes seem to evoke the unknown and the unfamiliar.

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