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

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English/literature coursework                                                                        Federica Gallo 10’6

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 ‘’ and ‘’,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 ‘.’ The weekly journal included articles on politics, science and history. To increase the number of people willing to buy ‘,’ 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. Miss Havisham is in fact presented as the embodiment of women's failure to properly manage wealth and property.

Miss Havisham in Charles Dickens' Great Expectations is a wealthy, eccentric old woman living in Satis House near Pip's village. She is manic and seems insane, walking around her house in a faded wedding dress, keeping a decaying feast on her table, and surrounding herself with clocks stopped at twenty to nine. As a young woman, Miss Havisham was left by her fiancé minutes before her wedding, and now she wants revenge against all men. She deliberately raises Estella to be the tool of her revenge, training her to break men's hearts. Although she doesn’t appear very often throughout the whole novel, Miss Havisham plays an important role in Pip’s life.

The outside of Satis House is definitely very ambiguous, and Pip is immediately alarmed by its wilderness and sense of disorder. “…Miss Havisham’s house, which was of old brick, and dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it.” This interpretation of Satin House by Pip immediately gives the reader an impression of chaotic disorder locked up in what could be described as a prison, which could also reflect Miss Havisham’s life style, the dismal of the house could symbolise her mixture of feelings, and the iron bars the way she has locked up all her feelings inside her for so many years.

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 “Some of the windows had been walled up; of those that remained, all the lower were rustily barred.” This second description of the outside of Satis house also makes me feel as if Dickens was once again referring to Miss Havishams behaviour and the way society viewed her. I reckon that the walled up windows represent the way she never left the house after that fatal day, and kept all her emotions to her self barring herself from the outside world. The word ‘rustly’ makes me feel as if Dickens is trying to say that time has passed and everything ...

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