We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Different portrayals of women in Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations” Essay Sample

  • Pages: 3
  • Word count: 577
  • Rewriting Possibility: 99% (excellent)
  • Category: dickens

Get Full Essay

Get access to this section to get all help you need with your essay and educational issues.

Get Access

Introduction of TOPIC

In “Great Expectations”, the virtuous/vixenish dichotomy is mainly explored through Estella, one of the main female characters in the novel, and also through Miss Havisham, who brought her up from the age of 3, and Biddy, a simple country girl.

Estella begins the novel as “vixenish” character, brought up by Miss Havisham to be so. She is cold, cynical and manipulative, trained to grow up to break the hearts of men. She hurts Pip and crush his feelings continuously, and the audience picks up on these qualities and dislikes her. Unlike the warm, honest and kind heroine that readers would sympathise with, Estella is the exact opposite, and viewed as “vixenish”.

Miss Havisham also begins as a “vixenish” character, who trained Estella to be the girl she’s growing up to be, and delights in the way Estella break Pip’s heart. Dickens justifies her actions by later explaining that Miss Havisham was jilted by her lover minutes before their marriage, and from then on hated men, wishing to hurt them as they did her, and although we dislike her actions and see her as vixenish, the audience is positioned to feel sorry for her.

In contrast to the perviou

s two, Biddy is plain and simple, but she is also kind-hearted and befriends Pip, helping him better

Sorry, but full essay samples are available only for registered users

Choose a Membership Plan
his education. Although she comes from the poor, labour class, she is kind and moral, the opposite of Estella, who is beautiful and cold. Because of her admirable qualities, the audience is supposed to like Biddy, the virtuous one.

However, Dickens shows that all is not so clear-cut and that the virtuous/vixenish dichotomy is not so clearly defined as the novel draws to a close. Estella, after an abusive and unhappy marriage, repents of her former sins and realises her mistakes. Although we were originally positioned to dislike Estella and her vixenish qualities, we also sympathise with her struggles, and we see that through her experience, she breaks free of her upbringing and becomes someone more morally desirable. The audience can see that Estella, realising her vixenish qualities, has repented, and might eventually achieve the virtuous ideal.

Miss Havisham, with her single-minded pursue of revenge against men, her selfishness and cruelty as she raises Estella to hurt others as she was hurt herself, is definitely not a likeable character. Her qualities, even more so than Estella’s, is tied to the view on vixenish women, and not until the end of her life did she redeem herself, and our opinion of her, in any way. She realises that she has hurt Pip in the same way as herself, and finally sees how cruel she has in her usage of people. Instead of getting revenge on the man who jilted her, she has only hurt others, and she begs Pip to forgive her. In this way, she gains the sympathy of the audience, and although she is still considered vixenish, she is viewed in slightly better light. Biddy, from the start to the end of the novel, has been blessed with qualities linked to the virtuous.

By the end of “Great Expectations”, Dickens shows us that while one can be vixenish, contrition and sympathy can redeem someone, and that it is not impossible to become the virtuous woman.

We can write a custom essay on

Different portrayals of women in Charles Dickens&# ...
According to Your Specific Requirements.

Order an essay

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

How Does Dickens Create Suspense in The...

The Signalman written by Charles Dickens in 1866 is a short story that falls into the gothic fiction genre. This particular style of writing combines elements such as the supernatural, castles, darkness, madness and the unknown. At the time the story was being written, the industrial revolution was in full force. This had a huge impact on society at the time. It improved the standard of living drastically. The death rate had dropped due to better health care and sanitation. Numerous amounts of great and unbelievable machines were being invented. Nothing like this had ever been seen before. There were suddenly vast amounts of new jobs being created because of all the new factories and machines having to be built and operated. People became sceptical as to the existence of god because their thoughts were being widely challenged by science and its overwhelming significance. Charles Darwin’s, “The Origin of Species”...

An Exploration of the Relationship Between Pip...

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812. Dickens was sent to school at the age of seven, this proved fairly pointless as Dickens' father, John Dickens, soon fell into debt and was put into prison, the rest of the Dickens family, due to finances were forced to join their father in prison, although Charles was made to work . So at the age of 12 Dickens was forced to work in a blacking factory. It was here that Dickens experienced loneliness for the first time in his life; working in the factory and living without his family proved influential in his career as Dickens became a very self-reliant and dedicated worker, Dickens carried this way of working into his writing career. After 6 months at the Blacking factory, Dickens was able to go back to school. He grew up to become a journalist, this is where he met his...

"The Signal-Man" by Charles Dickens and "The...

In your answer you should consider: * The use of setting * Presentation of characters * Contextual information * Anything else you think is relevant Suspense can incorporate tension, anticipation, fear and also anxiety. Charles Dickens wrote 'The Signal-Man' when the stream engine was a piece of cutting-edge technology and he himself was involved in two train accidents, during one of which he was in the only carriage to survive. People shared a common fear for trains due to the high number of fatalities caused by railway accidents and even the title 'The Signal-Man' would have conjured up images of an isolated and alien working environment, making his contemporary readers feel unease. Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Man with the Twisted Lip' boasts a title which would sound sinister at any time as it hints at an abnormal unnamed 'man'. It was written at a time when London was filled with...

Popular Essays


Emma Taylor


Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?