In chapter 28, why does Miss Havisham enjoy ridiculing Pip?Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

According to the text here on enotes, it is in Chapter XXIX (29), that Pip arrives at Satis House, home of Miss Havisham.  There, he encounters Orlick at the porter's gate, but Pip passes on up the dark passageway to the quarters of Miss Havisham.  Standing in the room beside her is a beautiful young woman who dazzles Pip when she looks up.  Naturally, Miss Havisham notices Pip's face and asks him,

"Do you find her much changed, Pip?"

Then, Pip and Estella walk together in the garden reminiscing over their contacts in the past.  After they return to the house, Estella departs to prepare for dinner; Miss Havisham turns to him and whispers,

"Is she beautiful, gracful, well grown?  Do you admire her?"

"Everybody must who sees her, Miss Havisham."

She put an arm around my neck and drew my head close down to hers as she sat in the chair. 

"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 get older and stronger it will tear deeper--love her, love her!  Hear me Pip!  I adopted her to be love.  I bred her and educated her to be loved.  I developed her into what she is, that she might be loved Love her!...I'll tell you ...what real love is.  It is blind devotion, unquestioning self-humiliation, utter submission, trust and belief against yourself and against the whole world, giving up your whole heart and soul to the smiter--as I did!"

Clearly here Miss Havisham baits Pip, urging him to love Estella so that his heart can break, and her mission in life will be validated.  For, she has raised Estella to break hearts, and Miss Havisham desires Estella to break Pip's heart, just as her own heart has been broken.  Miss Havisham wants to use Pip as the vehicle of her desire to seek revenge upon mankind.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mrs Havisham has heart turned to stone after she was jilted on her wedding day. She is unable to feel until she begins to seek a cruel pleasure in watching Estella torment Pip as his feelings for her develop.

 In Chapter 28 he returns from London but chooses not to stay with Miss Havisham-

 I should be too far from Miss Havisham's, and she was exacting and mightn't like it. All other swindlers upon earth are nothing to the self-swindlers, and with such pretences did I cheat myself.

 He is much changed – even becoming Handel instead of Pip at Herbert Pocket’s suggestion-

 I thought what a blessed fortune it was, that he had found another name for me than Pip.

 Pip believes that Mrs Havisham is his benefactress and she does not refute this – saving the knowledge that Pip’s fortunes rest on the grubby convict he met as a child. She appears to wish to torment Pip for his lifetime, as she feels she is tormented for her lifetime.

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Great Expectations

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