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Character study of Miss Havisham - Great Expectations

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Introduction

Miss Havisham is the representation of a 'faded spectre'. The failed effects of nineteenth centaury chauvinism amalgamating with the product of a rigid society with definite and pre-destined roles for women, in which Miss Havisham fits none. The figure confined to a 'dark chair' is in fact a personification of the themes, which are predominantly based on hatred, betrayal, and morality and criminality. Satis House is an eerie backdrop to a sinister plot. Satis meaning enough is a description of not only the house but its residents, enough being its primary concern, so much so that they never leave because they do not need to as they have enough. It is here 'through a side door', along 'more passages' and 'up a staircase' that the reader is introduced to Miss Havisham. The tension created by Dickens in preparation to meet Miss Havisham has the reader taken on a psychological maze. Thus, her character having a profound negative effect, on the reader, and in turn revealing that Dickens associates physical landscape with personality. Linking people and their possessions. It is therefore intended that when Pip meets the 'strangest lady' he 'has ever seen', she is, although 'dressed in rich materials' symbolising death and decay. This is shown through sinister curator ship in the room which houses objects that seem as though they have lost their 'lustre'. ...read more.

Middle

Negatively this was a cruel way to destroy the fantasies of grandeur built by Miss Havisham and to make evident the class divide between himself and Estella. Although Miss Havisham abused Pip, making his life miserable, he forgave her and she died with a less taunted spirit. It is however, true to say that the effects have been both positive and negative, they have affected so greatly on Pip's life that in turn they have shaped not only the child but also the adult that he will become. The biological daughter of murderers and later adopted by Miss Havisham, one wonders whether Estella is capable of any human emotions. She has admitted to 'having no heart'. Is that due to her genetic make up or the way in which she has been brought up? Some would argue that Estella's life would have been bleak and most probably short had she not been adopted, she would have been with out love and material possessions. However having been adopted she was showered with gifts and praise, but did not receive a pure form of love but something concentrated and bitter. By Miss Havisham, She was manipulated and made to feel superior to the world. This being her downfall. One wonders whether Estella has been so ruined by Miss Havisham that she would have been of purer thought and soul in an orphanage, although at the very least Miss Havisham enabled Estella to access a world of opportunity and splendour. ...read more.

Conclusion

The sympathy for Miss Havisham as the once cold woman who's personality resembled that of a heartless creature has been, by the end of the novel, shown in a more positive light. She was at times seen to be the wicked fairy godmother of the fairy tale. Where as by the end she was seen to be the princess trapped in the tower. Although sometimes the tone of her voice and the mood of the book made one feel as though she was stuck inside her 'mind' which with 'brooding solidarity had grown diseased' and that is more sinister. Her 'ghastly bridal appearance' laying on a table unable to move invokes a sense of pity from the reader. It is her macabre and tragic but almost humorous death that allows forgiveness from not only Pip but the reader also. However Miss Havisham's begging forgiveness shows that she has done wrong and if she knows she had done wrong then surely she must be aware of her actions and cannot be insane. This dampens the amount of forgiveness that the reader feels toward her. Overall the reader feels neutral toward Miss Havisham, she has been both prey and predator, both the tormented and the tormentor, both the hateful and the hated. Dickens had created a monster so, that people could to the conclusion that the good does not outweigh the bad and vice versa. ...read more.

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