The marshes were just a long black horizontal line then, as I stopped to look after him; and the river was just another horizontal line, not nearly so broad nor yet so black; and the sky was just a row of long angry red lines and dense black lines intermixed. On the edge of the river I could faintly make out the only two black things in all the prospect that seemed to be standing upright; one of these was the beacon by which the sailors steered - like an unhooped cask upon a pole - an ugly thing when you were near it; the other a gibbet, with some chains hanging to it which had once held a pirate. The man was limping on towards this latter, as if he were the pirate come to life, and come down, and going back to hook himself up again. It gave me a terrible turn when I thought so; and as I saw the cattle lifting their heads to gaze after him, I wondered whether they thought so too. I looked all round for the horrible young man, and could see no signs of him. But, now I was frightened again, and ran home without stopping.
Some time in 1860, Dickens had started a piece that he found funny and truthful and thought it might do better as a novel: "...it so opens out before me that I can see the whole of a serial revolving on it, in a most singular and comic manner," he wrote. Dickens had told friends that he had gone back and read David Copperfield and was quite struck by the story now that he looked back upon it. Copperfield was a happy novel, the story of a young man who came into his fortune though hard work and luck. Its influences and similarities are seen in Great Expectations. There are, however, some major thematic differences.