While I bow to the similarities pointed out between the two, it seems to me that the vast differences overwhelm the similarities. Miss Havisham is active in her isolation. Though she exists in her solely self-imposed isolation, she nonetheless reaches out and initiates intimate contact with at least two individuals....
While I bow to the similarities pointed out between the two, it seems to me that the vast differences overwhelm the similarities. Miss Havisham is active in her isolation. Though she exists in her solely self-imposed isolation, she nonetheless reaches out and initiates intimate contact with at least two individuals. Miss Emily is passive in her isolation. Though she acts on her behalf when it comes to Homer (and Homer's demise), Miss Emily remains isolated in a continuation of the isolation imposed upon her by her domineering and inhibiting father; contact she otherwise initiates is of a utilitarian mercantile nature (she gives lessons), not a personal nature. To summarize, their interior motivational systems are antithetical to each other though the visible result may have the same effect.
Name analysis shows that "Emily" means "rival, eager," which may suggest a bright eager personality that her father saw as potential rivalry to his dominant social position, particularly if she married a man superior to himself. "Havisham" is a homonym for "have I sham." In other words, Dickens pointedly illustrated Havisham's dominant character trait: she is a false sham of a person, woman, and recluse; her suffering and isolation are all of her own creation.
The most telling and overriding difference in my perspective is the behavior, Homer notwithstanding. Miss Havisham is wantonly manipulative and intentionally destructive, rejoicing in the horrific mental attitude she instills in Estelle and in the humble, dismissive, position she imposes upon young Pip (one wonders what the ultimate outcome of her plan would have been if Pip's benefactor hadn't unwittingly liberated Pip from her grasp). Miss Emily, on the other hand, is so utterly isolated that her only interaction is by way of teaching painting and going buggy ridding. Emily is devoid of manipulation while Havisham breathes it.
Finally, what about Homer? While Miss Havisham's activities are all cruelly retaliatory, Emily's are desperately possessive. While Miss Havisham reaches out to willfully harm and injure in retaliation, Miss Emily reaches out to possess lest her one opportunity at possession of love slip through her fingers. Perhaps Homer's temporary absence was so painful to Emily that, to protect herself, she promised herself never again. Though there is nothing in the text to positively clear up the Faulknerian ambiguity surrounding Emily's actions, we do know she holds tenaciously to an idea once it is in her head.
My contention is that while there are surface similarities between the two women, there are greater foundational differences that overwhelm similarities and dramatize two very different characters.