40 Voices Challenge #1

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Boy #1

My first Voice Challenge shall be… Pip (Philip Pirrip),
from Charles Dickens’ novel ‘Great Expectations’.  I should say what ‘Boy #1’ means.  In the 40 Voices Table, I have categorised
the voices into types and will have a go at each type 5 times, so creating 5
variants.  In this example, this is my
first attempt at creating the voice for a boy (Boy #1).

So what do we know about this fictional character?  Sparknotes.com says that there are two Pips; the character and the
narrator, who is an older version of Pip.
As I am covering the Boy #1 entry here, we will focus on the character
in the early chapters of the book.  Sparknotes.com
says Pip’s two important traits are his immature romantic idealism and his
innate good conscience.  He is also
ambitious and wishes to improve himself, whether educationally, morally or
socially.

Voice-wise, Pip’s Wikipedia entry informs me that he is an orphan brought up in Kent in the
early 1800s by his cruel sister Mrs Joe and her husband Joe Gargery, who is a
blacksmith.  When the book begins he is 7
years old.

Let’s examine the Kent accent a little: Example 1, Example 2, Example 3.  In these three examples alone, there is a distinct
difference in their accent despite all coming from Kent, but examples 1 & 3
do have a sound that could be associated with the east-end of London.  But we also have the passing of time to
consider. 

A study was done in 1950s to try and trace the old Kent
accent that would have originated when Londoners would have migrated to the
east coast during the 19th century.
Whilst those voices belong to people born in the closing decades of the
19th century, later than the time of the novel, it may provide a
more accurate version than the modern Kent accents.  The older accent still retained the ‘r’
pronunciation which had been lost in the popular London accent at that time.  Voice #5 from this collection is a blacksmith and has a
mix of rural and east-London in his accent.

Let’s see what the adaptations did with Pip’s accent:

  • BBC
    2011 adaptation
    – Pip meets Miss Haversham. 

    Interestingly,
    many people expressed their surprise in the comments about the rustic sound of
    the boy’s accent.

  • 1946 Movie

    there
    is a definite cockney accent here but it feels toned down or flattened.

  • 2012 Movie

    again,
    the accent is far more rural than London, which was different from my
    preconception.

Finally, let’s listen to his father figure, Joe Gargery, performed here by actor Greg Jones.  Again, there is definitely a
cockney twang to this accent.

OK, finally choosing lines to say…

‘O! Don’t cut my throat, sir,’ I pleaded in terror.
‘Pray don’t do it, sir.’
‘Tell us your name!’ said the man. ‘Quick!’
‘Pip, sir.’

‘I have only been to the churchyard,’ said I, from my stool,
crying and rubbing myself.
‘Churchyard!’ repeated my sister. ‘If it warn’t for me
you’d have been to the churchyard long ago, and stayed there. Who brought you
up by hand?’
‘You did,’ said I.
‘And why did I do it, I should like to know?’ exclaimed my sister.
I whimpered, ‘I don’t know.’

‘I think you have got the ague,’ said I.
‘I’m much of your opinion, boy,’ said he.
‘It’s bad about here,’ I told him. ‘You’ve been lying out
on the meshes, and they’re dreadful aguish. Rheumatic too.’

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