In the book Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, a small boy named Pip encounters a runaway convict. Our first impressions of him is that he is a mean, angry and intimidating criminal who is willing to hurt Pip for food. As the plot progresses Pip runs into the convict again only to find him caught and being shipped of to jail. However, the convict does take the blame for the food Pip stole for him, making him seem like a nice man. These opinions of him are based on the direct and indirect characterizations that appear in the first few chapters.
In the first chapter, as Pip visits his parents' graves, he finds his throat in the hands of the escaped felon. "'Hold your noise!' cried a terrible voice, as a man started up from among the graves. 'Keep still you little devil or I'll cut your throat.'"
By his actions, you can see the convict is a mean man. It is not clearly stated that he is cruel but by the way he talks to Pip it is assumed he is not a kind man.
"A fearful man, all in coarse gray, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes, and with an old rag tied around his head. A man who had been soaked in water, and smothered in mud, and lamed by stones, and cut by flints, and stung by nettles, and torn by briars; and whose teeth chattered in his head as he seized me by the chin." By his description you can see he was a scary looking person, some one you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alleyway. This quote is a direct characterization because it clearly states that the convict is a frightful sight.
Several chapters later we encounter the convict again, but this time it's not just Pip who finds him but soldiers too.When the convicts sees Pip we see a whole new side of him, seeing that some good come out of the convict. "'I know, but this is another matter. A man can't starve, at least I can't. I took some wittles, up at the village over yonderÃ¢ÂÂ¦.and I'll tell you where from. From the blacksmith's.'" This is a very confusing action; before the same convict was threatening Pip's life and now he is taking the blame for Pip's theft. This shows there is some good in him.
In conclusion, direct and indirect characterization helps us get a better understanding of the eccentric characters in Great Expectations. Sometimes they contradict each other but characterizations always explain why characters do the things they do.