Explain The Role Of Miss Havisham in ‘Great Expectations’ Essay Sample

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Great Expectations is the story of a young boy called Pip growing up. He lives with his sister, and his sister’s husband, Joe. As he grows up he meets a young girl called Estella about the same age as him, with whom he believes he is in love with. Estella simply criticises him, which makes him angry and depressed about himself and the way he has been brought up. This makes him determined to become a gentleman, which he believes would make the Estella like him more or even love him. Later on in the novel Pip has no choice but to be sent off to London to become a gentleman. This is thanks to an unknown benefactor who provides with Pip with this opportunity through Jaggers. Because Pip has seen Jaggers at Satis house before, he immediately assumes that Miss Havisham is the benefactor and that she intends for him to marry Estella. Later in the novel the benefactor is found to be Miss Havisham’s fianc� who left her on her wedding day.

Miss Havisham is probably the most described character in the book due to her importance as a character in the novel. Dickens doesn’t seem to stop piling on the details about this lady. It’s as if he’s quite literally fascinated by her. As he increasingly described her, a more detailed and looming image appears in the reader’s mind. Pip’s future hopes and dreams are connected with this grotesque character, (through Magwitch) hence causing the reading to feel sceptical about them.

Miss Havisham has had a very depressing past associated with love. From the moment she learned that her fianc� had left her on her wedding day, every aspect of her surroundings where she lived was paused in that moment of time. The mansion where she lived looked as if it was an area which time had forgotten. Every room in the mansion had its curtain drawn, and the only light available was candlelight. The large room in which Miss Havisham spent most of her time had its curtains drawn, and for sources of light simply had candles dotted about the room, and an open fire at one end. Clothes too didn’t change. Miss Havisham kept her wedding dress on all the time. A once white and beautiful dress, was now yellowing and becoming torn and worn. Even her footwear was incomplete. She wore only one shoe, since when she learned of his betrayal, she had not put on the other shoe. Time too indoors was stopped. The clocks were stopped at the time of twenty minutes to nine.

After this tragic love loss, Miss Havisham is determined to seek revenge upon the male sex. An unfortunate event has occurred in her life, but unlike many she won’t look to the future and try to get over it. She stops everything around her and intends to make others suffer too, particularly the male sex. Miss Havisham’s ‘weapon’ is a young girl called Estella. She is adopted and raised by Miss Havisham, to seek revenge on men. Her plan is to break men’s hearts, like Compeyson did to her.

Miss Havisham also represents the wealth and riches of Pip’s life ahead of him. Miss Havisham is really the opposite to Pip’s brother in law, Joe. Joe basically represents poor honest values such as friendship, love and care, but Miss Havisham, without Pip knowing, is trying to break his heart. All Pip believes, is happening with him and her, is that he is there to play as instructed by his sister. He is an innocent and unsuspecting target. This makes Miss Havisham look all the more evil and heartless.

Miss Havisham’s ‘weapon’, Estella, has been brought up quite clearly to have confidence and power through all of her actions towards anybody. This can be seen in Chapter 8, page 85, when Pip arrives at the gates of Satis house and is let in by Estella. Mr Pumblechook begins to follow after Pip through the gates but is stopped by Estella and asked, “Did you wish to see Miss Havisham?” And Mr Pumblechook replies, “If Miss Havisham wished to see me.” Then Estella finally replies in such an undiscussible and unanswerable way, “Ah!, but you see she don’t.” In both today’s society and even more so one hundred and fifty years or so back, this would have been looked upon as disrespect and simply not allowed, for a girl to tell an adult and respected man what to do. In two ways she got away with saying that to him.

The first was the way she was brought up by Miss Havisham to treat men, and the second was that Mr Pumblechook would dare not to argue with Miss Havisham’s right hand girl. This is because Mr Pumblechook and Mrs Joe (Pip’s keeper and sister) believe that if they help in giving what Miss Havisham wants, which is a boy to play, they shall receive some of her wealth when she dies. So if Mr Pumblechook did argue or confront Estella in any way, this could put his possible wealth from Miss Havisham in jeopardy.

Estella doesn’t only treat the men badly, but also the boy, Pip, too. She never calls him by his name, but simply calls him, ‘boy.’ In Chapter 8, page 86, Pip asks, “Is that the name of this house, miss?” Estella replies, “One of its names, boy” It’s strange how Pip treats her with such respect calling her ‘miss’ at the end of each sentence, and she simply replies scornfully back at him, calling ‘boy,’ how Pip consequently falls in love with her. Estella continues to call him ‘boy’ for as long as he visits Satis house while still a young boy.

Estella even insults Pip right in front of Miss Havisham, but because he likes her, he takes offence and wants to change his ways of being a scruffy young boy to being a gentleman. In Chapter 8, page 90, Estella starts to insult Pip saying, “He calls the knaves, Jacks, this boy! And what coarse hands he has! And what thick boots!” As a result of this Pip is very disappointed at who he is. At the same time Miss Havisham is enjoying what is happening because this is the way she wants it.

Estella’s name is Latin for star. A star is a beautifully shining far off object. This star represents their current relationship at this stage in the book. Pip is attracted to her by her beautiful shining, but a loving relationship between the two is far off.

After Estella tells Pip this, this results in a great deal of anger from Pip towards himself, and the way he his. Chapter 8, page 92, ‘As I cried, I kicked the wall, and took a hard twist at my hair; so bitter were my feelings, and so sharp was the smart without a name, that needed counteraction.’ Pip releases all his anger against a wall, but inflicting injury upon himself. Pip is now mentally, emotionally and physically hurt. This is the power of Miss Havisham and Estella. Miss Havisham can easily be looked upon as a murderer. She is killing them both emotionally, but for Miss Havisham this is just what she wants. This means her plan is working! This brings out the hatred from the reader towards Miss Havisham, making her a more disliked character of the novel.

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