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How does Dickens present the character of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations?

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Introduction

How does Dickens present the character of Miss Havisham in Great Expectations? Most of Dickens' major novels were first written in monthly or weekly instalments in journals such as 'Master Humphrey's Clock' and 'Household Words',which later were reprinted in book form. These instalments made the stories cheap, accessible and the series of regular cliff-hangers made each new episode widely anticipated. American fans even waited at the docks in New York, shouting out to the crew of an incoming ship, asking about what would happen next in the novels. Part of Dickens' great talent was to incorporate this episodic writing style but still end up with a logical ending. Although Dickens was a very successful novelist, he was also interested in social reform. He was determined to create a means where he could communicate his ideas on social reform and in 1850 he began editing 'Household Words.' The weekly journal included articles on politics, science and history. To increase the number of people willing to buy 'Household Words,' it also contained short stories and humorous pieces. Dickens also used the journal to serialize novels that were concerned with social issues. In Great expectations Dickens themes unmarried women and property, he wrote the novel in the mid-nineteenth century a period when women's property rights were being intensely debated in England. His depiction of propertied women in the novel reflects Victorian England's beliefs about women's inability to responsibly own and manage their own property. ...read more.

Middle

The fact that she only wore shoe and never put the second one on, shows that she didn't dare to carry on dressing after she heard the shocking news, and the fact that she has refused to wear it after so many years shows that she wants to keep everything the same as it was that day. I think all these small gestures that could seem insane at first, symbolise hope. I think Miss Havisham refuses to admit to what has happened to her and therefore stopped everything and left it exactly as it was in hope that her fianc� will come back so they can carry on from were he left her. When Miss Havisham invites Pip to come closer, Pip seems very shy and insecure. "...it was when I stood before her, avoiding her eyes..." I think Pip felt threatened by this ambiguous old woman he had never met, and when Pip and Miss Havisham finally start talking she does everything but reassure him. Miss Havisham comes across as some sort of disturbed drama queen. She doesn't simply tell Pip, what is up setting her she places her hand on her chest and questions Pip. "Do you know what I touch here?" obviously knowing Pips response would not be correct in her eyes; she waited for him to answer "your heart." ...read more.

Conclusion

In the agony of remorse, she kneels to Pip, cries, falls to the ground, while repeating, "What have I done!" Until released by death, the delirious Miss Havisham repeats, three sentences: "What have I done!," "When she first came, I meant to save her from misery like mine," she is referring to Estella, she didn't bring her up the way she did only to have revenge on men, but also because she was trying to protect her from being hurt like she was. I think that this action however unjustified it may seem, proves how much Miss Havisham was really hurt, and how much she cared for Estella. She also says "Take the pencil and write under my name, 'I forgive her!' " She is now so desperate she is literally begging Pip for his forgiveness, which I think shows her sincerity and love towards Pip which is such a change from the heartless women she was before. I think Dickens decided to invent a character like Miss Havisham to show the effects of karma, and to change the Victorian civilisation point of view on unmarried women. He did this by giving her a very strong and defensive character, which also brought entertainment to the novel. I also think the message he was trying to put through was that everyone can change and deserve a second chance because in the end love always overcomes hate. English/literature coursework Federica Gallo 10'6 ...read more.

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