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Explore the characterisation of Miss Havisham showing how Dickens creates and develops the character.

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Introduction

'Explore the characterisation of Miss Havisham showing how Dickens creates and develops the character.' Keira Woodward Miss Havisham is perhaps one of the most striking characters in Dickens' novel - "Great Expectations". She is a manipulative, bitter and twisted woman who is completely out of touch with the real world - and Dickens reinforces this by associating props, gestures and images to fix her character and nature in our minds. In an issue of 'The Saturday Review' written July 20, 1981, Miss Havisham is described as 'one of Mr Dickens' regular pieces of melodramatic exaggeration.' - ad it becomes clear why once we are introduced to her. Dickens takes up a lot of space in his novel to describe characters, places and events in great detail. In describing one room in Satis House he uses half a page (page 81) to show what Pip can feel, smell and see: 'The daylight was completely excluded, and it had an airless smell that was oppressive... The reluctant smoke, which hung in the room, seemed colder than the clearer air... Wintry branches of candles on the high chimneypiece faintly troubled its darkness'. Dickens achieves his goal of making the room seem dim and smothering by using words and phrases such as 'an airless smell that was oppressive', 'reluctant smoke', 'wintry branches of ...read more.

Middle

These points show the effect she is having not only on her mentality but also her appearance by refusing to move on with her life. Pip also says that he 'felt almost sure that Miss Havisham's face couldn't smile' and that she 'had the appearance of having dropped, body and soul'. The fact that Pip narrates the story could mean that our viewpoint of Miss Havisham becomes biased. Pip is bound to find Miss Havisham puzzling when her first meets her because he is only a young boy. As he grows up and realises that Miss Havisham has been manipulating Estella, he isn't going to have any sympathy for Miss Havisham and will describe her as being even stranger because he has found out first hand how twisted she is. But is it really fair to say that she is twisted? Like I said, the fact that Pip has been manipulated by Miss Havisham will make him bitter towards her, therefore his viewpoint could be biased. Because we only ever hear Pip's opinions on her, we are never one hundred percent sure if Miss Havisham is really as crazy and twisted and she is made out to be. Out of all the characters in Dickens' novel, Estella and Pip are the two most affected by their encounters with Miss Havisham. ...read more.

Conclusion

When Pip leaves the room from visiting her for the last time, he hears a scream and turns to find Miss Havisham covered in flames. We never find out whether this was accidental or a suicide. Miss Havisham could merely have tripped as she stood up and fallen into the fire, or she may have felt so bad about mutilating Estella and causing so much damage that she decided to kill herself. If it was an accident, there may have been a chance that Miss Havisham would have changed her ways there and then after talking with Pip. Then again, even if it was a planned death, it shows that Miss Havisham was feeling sorry for everything she has done which is a change from her former self, showing that her character did indeed change in the novel. In conclusion, Miss Havisham does not have that many facets. She stays the same person the whole way through the novel and we never see a different side to her. Miss Havisham is a two-dimensional character but she is essential in the novel. Another possible reason why her character does not change is that it is the circumstances of her life that make the novel what it is. Dickens never goes into much detail about how she thinks and feels because it is essentially her being there that matters more in the plot of the story. ...read more.

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