Dickens utilizes language to present his characters in 'Great Expectations'. The key female character is Miss Havisham who I consider has endured extremely in her life. Her dress is described as 'trodden ragged', which suggests she also was badly treated.

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Dickens utilizes language to present his characters in ‘Great Expectations’. The key female character is Miss Havisham who I consider has endured extremely in her life. Her dress is described as ‘trodden ragged’, which suggests she also was badly treated.


Dickens portrays Miss Havisham using the theme of deterioration, by writing that she had ‘shrunk to skin and bone’, and ‘her stockings were once white now yellow’. This also indicates that Miss Havisham is frozen in time and can’t get over what happened to her long time ago. Dickens writes that Miss Havisham has ‘withered’ and her body has a ‘collapsed form’, which is ‘corpse like’ because she has not repositioned herself since she got rejected on the day of her marriage. In consequence of lack of movement her muscles are deteriorating. Her body is ‘stooped’, which also shows deterioration, because for a long time her body hasn’t moved, and her back has curved due to this.

Dickens also conveys Miss Havisham through the theme of loss. For example, Miss Havisham’s clothes are ‘grave clothes’, which have ‘lost’ their ‘lustre’ and have ‘no brightness left’. This informs me that the clothes have been worn out and the ‘grave clothes’ suggest that she has lost someone close to her and hasn’t got over it. The flower also had ‘no brightness left’ in it and she has been wearing it for so long that its colour has faded as well. Pip says that everything in his ‘view, which ought to be white, had been white long ago’. This suggests that everything is deteriorating because it is getting old, and that the things have not been touched or moved for a long time.


Dickens also describes Miss Havisham by showing her as stopped in time. He writes that her ‘clock in the room had stopped at twenty minutes to nine’, the time when her fiancé deserted her. She is ‘transfixed’ and bewildered, and can’t get over it. Miss Havisham is in the same place and as when the couple broke up she has been unable to move on.


Miss Havisham is described in the words, ‘a prayer book’ showing her despair, because you pray when you are in need of help. This also ties in with loss because if you lose something very important to you then you pray to try to get it back or find it. Her ‘voice had dropped’ also indicates despair because it shows that she lacks of emotion or depression.

The theme of death is presented in ‘Great Expectations’ and can again be linked to Miss Havisham. Dickens writes that her ‘corpse like’ ‘collapsed form’ had ‘decayed’ and ‘shrunk to skin and bone’. This tells me that Miss Havisham is like a living skeleton. Words such as ‘dropped’ and a ‘dead lull upon her’ tell me that Miss Havisham has lost someone close to her and is very silent. Again this ties in with the view of her as a skeleton because she is unearthly soundless.


Another theme Dickens uses to portray Miss Havisham is lack of emotion. The words that show this are ‘spoke low’ and ‘corpselike’. ‘Spoke low’ suggests Miss Havisham has been hurt in some way. She is a ‘corpse like’ because a skeleton can’t show any emotions, and Miss Havisham is incapable of expressing her feelings.          Trevor’s main method of exposing his characters is through the use of narrative structure. He commences his story by introducing the names of the characters, for example, Mrs Tracy. Then he elucidates how they are related to the main characters. Mrs Tracy, in Teresa’s Wedding, is ‘a sister of Mrs Atty and Teresa’s aunt’.

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Then, he illustrates their appearance, for example, Mrs Tracy is described as ‘the stoutest of the three women’ and he tells us that ‘she was dressed in black’.

After discussing the appearance, he describes her in more detail. He tells us why Mrs Tracy is wearing the black dress. He says that ‘in spite of the jubilant nature of the occasion, she was dressed in black, a colour she affected since the death of her husband three years ago’, which tells us that she is a sad person.

Lastly, for some of the main characters, he delves ...

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