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Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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Describe how the incident that induced Miss Havisham to become a recluse brought Estella and Pip together.

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After Pip goes to London to begin his education and training to be a gentleman, he meets Herbert Pocket again as they become boarders together at Barnard's Inn.  While they eat supper, Herbert relates the tale of Miss Havisham:

She was a spoiled child whose mother died when she was a baby.  The father, who was very rich and very proud, denied her nothing.  He had a brewery next to the Satis House and privately married his cook, who gave birth to a boy.  After the cook died, the father told his daughter what he had done; then, the son began to reside in the house.  But, he became a most disreputable young man, riotous, extravagant and undutiful--so bad, in fact, the father had disinherited him, but relinquished and left him well off. 

When the letter arrived and Miss Havisham read the contents, she closed Satis House, shutting out the dark.  Curtains were closed and candles lit as Miss Havisham became reclusive, and she walked around the wedding cake.

Nevertheless Miss Havisham was now an heiress, and was sought after.  And, although her half brother had ample means, he wasted them.  Consequently, strong differences developed between the siblings with the brother harboring a terrible grudge against her.  Because of this antipathy toward his sister, Arthur met another man, who later began to pursue Miss Havisham. As a result, Miss Havisham came to adore him and gave him large sums of money.  This man, named Compeyson, coerced Miss Havisham to buy her brother out of the brewery so that when he was her husband, he would hold and manage it all.

Herbert's father had warned Miss Havisham about the young man, but she angrily ordered him out of her house.  Yet, the marriage day came and the bridegroom sent a letter at 8:40.  Miss Havisham fell ill, and after she recovered, she laid wait to the place, and she has never since looked upon the light of day.  Herbert adds that the man who left Miss Havisham at the altar had conspired with Arthur, and they split the money and were not seen again.

Left alone, Miss Havisham is given a child ro raise in the desolate house, a child named Estella.  This child Miss Havisham molds into a cruel young woman who will scorn and tease anyone of the male race.  So, one day Miss Havisham calls upon Pip to come to Satis House in order to have him play with Estella, who ridicules his hands and boots, and mocks his calling the some of the face cards "jacks" rather than "knaves."  To Estella, Miss Havisham whispers, "You can break his heart."

Pip, who is taken with Estella's beauty, looks anew at himself and is ashamed as he returns to the forge.  As a result, he desires to become a gentleman in order to win the love of Estella.






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