Great Expectations - Sample Essay

What are the results of Miss Havisham’s desire revenge? In the novel, ‘Great Expectations’, Charles Dickens’ character Miss Havisham is highlighted as a bitter old woman who is vengeful and uncompromising. Miss Havisham’s desire to take revenge against a man, who has previously done her wrong, consumes her and has overwhelming consequences on herself and her behaviour towards other characters in the novel. The reader first encounters Miss Havisham in chapter eight when Pip, the main character, is sent to play at Satis House, Miss Havisham’s place of residence.

Satis House is described as semi-derelict and neglected, ‘grass was growing in every crevice’, ‘all is empty and disused’. Miss Havisham has deliberately allowed her house to fall apart, as a result of her disappointment and conscious desire for revenge. Not only does Miss Havisham’s house reflect the consequences of Miss Havisham’s choices and past experience, but her personage also does. ‘She was dressed in rich materials… and she had a long white veil dependent from her hair’.

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Miss Havisham was deserted by the man she loved on her wedding day and allowed this tragedy to fester to the extent that her life has stood still since that very day, ‘the bride within the bridal dress had withered… and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes’. Miss Havisham’s watch and the clock in the room show the same, incorrect time,’ her watch had stopped at twenty minutes to nine and the clock in her room had stopped at twenty minutes to nine’ The reader later discovers this was the exact time Miss Havisham received a letter from her fianci?? e deserting her.

In an effort to stop time and keep the possibility of revenge alive, Miss Havisham stopped the clocks and vowed to freeze the moment in time. Miss Havisham’s overwhelming desire to take revenge for what happened to her is consequently fed by her choosing to forget what happened. This is illustrated in her stopping clocks at the moment of her abandonment, wearing her wedding dress from all those years ago, and keeping daylight out of the house. It is not only what she does to herself and Satis House which reflect her burning need for revenge but her behaviour towards other characters in the novel.

Miss Havisham adopts Estella, with the intention of seeking her own personal revenge on mankind, through Estella. We see this when Miss Havisham introduces Estella to Pip, and instructing her ‘you can break his heart’. Estella has been trained from birth by her to regard all men as inferior beings, first describing Pip as ‘a common labouring boy’. Estella, as she has been taught by Miss Havisham, looks on Pip with disdain and immediately begins to rustle up feelings of inadequacy within him, ‘what course hands he has, and what thick boots’.

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