What are Miss Havisham's reactions during Pip's declaration of love to Estella in Chapter 44 of "Great Expectations"?

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Estella looks at Pip during his poignant decalaration that Estella has been

part of my existence, part of myself.  you have been in every line I have ever read since I first came here....You have been in every prospect I have ever seen since...there and everywhere you will be.

During this declaraction of his total devotion to his love for Estella, Miss Havisham puts her hand to her heart, at first looking "by turns at Estella" and then to Pip.  When Pip expresses his deep love, his all-consuming love, Miss Havisham still covers her heart--

the spectral figure of Miss Havisham...seemed all resolved into a ghastly stare of pity and remorse.

Pip's open and sincere outpourings of his heart have touched a chord in Miss Havisham.  Dickens uses the words "spectral" and "ghastly" to denote that the feelings of Pip are the same deep affections that Miss Havisham, the young bride, felt on the day that time stopped for her.  Her heart remembers all too well the agony of this despairing love, the love that one would stop, but cannot.  She sees herself in Pip, and realizes that she is responsible for Estella's having no heart as she looks at Pip with "incredulous wonder."  It is at this point that Miss Havisham realizes the terrible mistake that she has made in fostering coldness and cruelty in Estella.

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Pip is declaring his love for Estella, she keeps on knitting.Estella says,“I know what you mean as a form of words, but nothing more. You address nothing in my breast, you touch nothing there. I don’t care for what you say at all. I have tried to warn you of this, now, have I not?” However, when Pio looks at Miss Havisham, he sees a look of pity on her face. Somehow Miss Havisham may have finally understood the hurt she has caused by raising Estella for her own revenge. Perhaps this is why Miss Havisham gives some of her money to Herbert. Pip has just finished telling her that the Pockets have been kind to him and this is her way of trying to make amends.

sandydd | Student

Miss Havisham put her heart on top of heart and holds it there, as if it reminds her of how her own heart is broken once. She also has a ghastly stare of pity and remorse. This action reveals her own guilt for making Estella as a heartless monster. She also learns that Pip is not like Arthur and Compeyson and feels compassionate toward Pip since Pip's heart is now broken by Estella.

Read the study guide:
Great Expectations

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question