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Analyse how Dickens presents the characters of Miss Havisham, Estella, Biddy and Mrs Joe in "Great Expectations"

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Introduction

Analyse how Dickens presents the characters of Miss Havisham, Estella, Biddy and Mrs Joe in "Great Expectations" In "Great Expectations", Charles Dickens presents the four major female characters of the decaying Miss Havisham, the cold-hearted Estella, the violent Mrs Joe and the sweet Biddy. These four women change in many different ways over the course of the novel. The events in "Great Expectations" shape these women to better themselves. The social standings of the women are from upper and lower class Victorian England. These four women are somehow damaged; Miss Havisham passionately hated all men after she was jilted by Compeyson on her wedding day, since then she has been lurking in Satis House (Enough House) plotting her revenge. Mrs Joe however hates herself to be allowed into a domestic life she despises genuinely. Estella - after the enduring years of emotional abuse, has learnt to channel her depression into "bullying" Pip and later Herbert. Last of all Biddy, she however was damaged before the novel even started, during her childhood. It was only mentioned she was brought up "by hand" which is similar to Pip's upbringing. Many critics have debated whether or not Charles Dickens' presentation of women is realistic or misogynistic. The arguments are that he hates women so much. Women are portrayed as people who have to be beaten to "behave," which is true for Biddy, Mrs Joe and Estella. ...read more.

Middle

More proof that she is a facilitator is that Pip turns to Biddy for help for a better education so he can impress Estella. The reader gets a taste of his desperation and Biddy offers some great advice, but reluctantly agrees to help. She is pleased Pip has confidence in her. Joe Gargery obviously finds her as a wife he never had, "a blessing to the house," says Joe, glad he is not abused by Mrs Joe, and extremely happy with his new-born daughter. Biddy helps Joe and Pip in many ways, such as teaching them both to read and write. When Joe couldn't write she wrote letters on his behalf. Biddy is used as a social conscience in "Great Expectations," empathising that Pip has forgotten his roots and how he has abandoned Joe and Mrs Joe snobbishly to live an expensive and luxurious life in London, without even visiting the Gargery's often. In chapter thirty-five, Biddy reminds Pip slowly about Joe: By degrees she led me into more temperate talk, and she told me how Joe loved me, and how Joe never complained of anything,-she didn't say, of me; she had no need; I knew what she meant,-but ever did his duty in his way of life, with a strong hand, a quiet tongue, and a gentle heart. ...read more.

Conclusion

You would have been disappointed and angry?'" Chapter 38, Lines 279-281 They confront each other, while Miss Havisham furiously shouts Estella replies shortly and realistically. Estella confronts her that Miss Havisham "made" her into a cold spiteful woman who was meant to "wreak vengeance on all male sex." Miss Havisham expected Estella to be cruel and cold to everybody except her. Estella's marriage to Drummle is a sort of self-loathing, similar to Mrs Joe. Estella could have just stopped caring. Wanted to hurt Miss Havisham, as she wanted Estella to forever hurt men, or to try and stop Pip from pursuing her. Miss Havisham finally regrets all her wrong doings, "what have I done?" She is a victim of society like all other women. Pip doesn't believe her and walks away, when he hears her scream he thinks that she is having a fit when she is actually fatally injured by a fire. Pip tries to rescue her but it is too late. The fire symbolises rebirth and retribution. Estella has a dreadful marriage with Drummle and is divorce when he finds out about her low status by birth despite her enormous wealth, showing how Victorian England acted in those times and how important a person's birthright was. The irony is that she always called Pip, "Boy," "course" and behaved like a queen towards Pip, whereas by birth Pip was a higher status than her and she were from the lowest of all. Her father, a criminal and her mother, a servant. ...read more.

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