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Great Expectations, By Charles Dickens Essay

1394 words - 6 pages

Imprisonment and captivity are both actions that when are taken literally allow a person to repent for what they have done wrong. Great Expectations is a novel in which Charles Dickens utilizes the theme of imprisonment and captivity to help the reader better their exploration of his characters. Such exploration allows the reader to understand how and why the characters are imprisoned and gives insight into their personalities. Some of the characters are literally imprisoned and get a chance to think about the wretched things they have done that put them in prison. Others that are figuratively imprisoned do not necessarily understand that they are also committing wretched acts, which affect themselves and others, until it is too late. Throughout his novel, Dickens uses the theme of imprisonment and captivity, both literally and figuratively, and in doing so makes the figurative imprisonment and captivity have a greater impact on the lives of the characters.
When first meeting Miss Havisham, the reader learns that she is not only cruel, but also driven to seek revenge on men. As the novel progresses the reader learns that her vengeance is due to her imprisonment by her past. Miss Havisham always wears a dirty, old, ragged bride’s dress and sits in a room in which the table is set for a feast with a dirty, old, ragged table-cloth. In addition, all of the clocks are stopped to commemorate the time on her wedding day when she received a letter from her fiancé “which she received… when she was dressing for her marriage? At twenty minutes to nine… at which she afterwards stopped all the clocks… [and] it most heartlessly broke the marriage off” (182). After Miss Havisham is deserted by her fiancé, she imprisons herself in her house, never once leaving again. Although she has the option to leave, unlike a prison, she decides against doing so. She also chooses not to try to recover from her life-changing experience, which results her need to hurt all men the same way that her fiancé hurt her. She continuously hurts Pip through the use of love for Estella; however, she does not see that she is hurting Pip in the same way that she was once hurt by her fiancé. Miss Havisham causes Pip to believe that she will one day allow him to marry Estella, and tells him repeatedly to “love her, love her, love her! If she favors you, love her. If she wounds you, love her. If she tears your heart to pieces,—and as it gets older and stronger it will tear deeper,—love her, love her, love her” (240). Miss Havisham explains how she adopted Estella to be loved, but omits the detail of what happens to someone when they love her. Miss Havisham’s notion of needing to destroy men continues until the wedding items that represent the experience that destroyed her life are destroyed in a fire. The destruction of those objects and her realization of the amount of hurt she was causing Pip, free her from her idea that all men are evil. Miss Havisham decides that men no longer need to...

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