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How does Charles Dickens shape the readers first impression of Miss Havisham?

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G.C.S.E Assignment coursework - Great Expectations by Charles Dickens How does Charles Dickens shape the readers first impression of Miss Havisham? Miss Havisham is an old lady living without a partner in a mansion with only her niece for company. She's very wealthy and for a woman living in a society in which this was written it would have been frowned upon to be alone. Woman were to be married and to belong to their husbands, Miss Havisham is on your own because she was jilted on her wedding day which has broken her heart and has left her with a hatred for all men. In the course of the novel, Miss Havisham is deserted again, but this time by Estella, who, after many years being taught by Miss Havisham not to love men, has clandestinely gotten married without informing her aunt. After Estella has gone, Miss Havisham becomes even lonelier and ends her life by burning to death when the ends of her dress catch fire because she stands too near it. Miss Havisham's presence in the story is very important, without her Pip's world would not have changed and he would not have known any different. The grand ideas that she gives him would never have existed and there wouldn't have been any storyline. Her relationship with Pip is dishonest; she leads him to think that he's going to eventually marry Estella when in fact all she wants is for him to fall in love with her, so she can break his heart. ...read more.


Dickens choice of setting also tells us a lot about the state in which Miss Havisham is in, the objects are almost symbolic and the atmosphere spills her emotion all over the room. The wax candles could represent her life, and how it's just clinging on by a spark, the gilded looking glass could symbolise her beauty and her hopes, the emotions that fill the room create a dark, old and exhausted atmosphere in which we can read how she feels. In the second paragraph, we learn more about Miss Havisham's appearance. We learn that the colour of her dress is white and the veil that coordinates with her dress is also white. Her shoes are white and her hair is white. We learn that jewels sparkle from her neck and her hands and there's mess all around her room. We learn that things are very unorganised and she's' left everything how it was on the day on which her heart was broken. Pip describes what lies on her dressing table and it's all unorganised and clustered. It makes the reader wonder whether she leaves everything like it is on purpose to remind her of her wedding day or if she's just too broken-hearted to bring herself to pack it away or tidy up. We learn all this through Dickens use of repetition and long lists of adjectives. ...read more.


By the end of the story however, our feelings probably would have changed and become more sympathetic towards her as her plans for revenge on all men collapses because she loses her only chance to carry it out, this being Estella. Miss Havisham out of all the things she is, is probably the interesting character of Great Expectations. Already by the first few paragraphs the reader wants to know more about her and her past. She's a character no one would ever forget if they met her. What also makes her interesting is the way she took to behaving once she was humiliated and devastated. She thinks she is covering her hatred, pain and heart break well but in reality it is written all over her and her possessions. She is also a very realistic character who Dickens has made convincing and can be real. The reader can believe in her as a character. Had a female written this novel, her representation of Miss Havisham would have been very different and she probably would have been more violent, angry and less calm. She would have shown her different sides and the real emotion in her that lies deep within her heart. I think this because I have read Carol Ann Duffy's poem about Miss Havisham entitled "Havisham" It shows her anger and her pain instead of the way Dickens presents her as a mellow, calm character. Sophie Wong 11A ...read more.

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