The Presentation of Miss Havisham in Chapter 8 and in Chapter 49 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
In chapter 8 of 'Great Expectations', the author, Charles Dickens,
initially presents Miss Havisham through Pip's eyes as an eccentric
old lady "her hair was white", who lives in seclusion with her adopted
daughter, Estella. She lives vicariously through Estella, all her
inner thoughts and feelings are brought to life through Estella;
therefore she is able to teach her to break the hearts of men. We
discover that she was deserted on her wedding day, and then made it
her life's purpose to raise Estella as a cruel- hearted woman who'll
break the hearts of men and seek revenge on the male population for
her unpleasant experience, "Well," says Miss Havisham, "you can break
She lives in the past, wearing her yellowing wedding dress, "the bride
within the bridal dress had withered like the dress." This implies an
image to Miss Havisham as being an antithesis of a traditional bride.
Miss Havisham is presented as being lonesome and heart- broken for
many years, "Broken!" This suggests that she was deeply in love with
her fiancée and her world came to pieces when he left her.
As a consequence this caused her to isolate herself from the outside
world and not leave her house for a lengthy time, "You are not afraid
of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?"
All the clocks in her house are stopped on the minute she found out
her fiancée left her, "I took note of the surrounding objects in
detail, and saw that her watch had stopped at twenty minutes to nine,
and that the clock in the room had stopped at twenty minutes to nine."
By stopping time, symbolized by the clocks all reading twenty to nine,
Miss Havisham has stopped her life, which thereby becomes
death-in-life. By wilfully stopping her life at a moment of pain and
humiliation, she indulges her own anger, self-pity, and desire for
revenge. She imagines her death as an ultimate curse upon the man who
jilted her. In her revenge, which destroys her life, she is like a
child who hurts itself in its anger at someone else.
Dickens uses strong imagery to describe Miss Havisham's house ("The
Manor House") as barren of feelings or even life, "The cold wind
seemed to blow colder there, than outside the gate..."
Also the surroundings of the house is described in a gothic theme as
it is unusual and gloomy, "the passages were all dark, and that she
had left a candle burning there." This suggests a peculiar setting and
household. Miss Havisham is rich too, and deceives Pip by implying
that she's his benefactor.
In chapter 8, Miss Havisham is exceedingly manipulative, "I stopped,
fearing that I might say too much." This implies that Pip is afraid of
Miss Havisham. Also, Pip indicates that he is nervous...