Miss Havisham is an eccentric old lady who is always dressed in her wedding dress. She is described as being "faded" - everything about her is old and decaying. Her hair is white and wreathed with wilted flowers, and her clothing hangs on her withered body and is stained and yellowed with age. Mrs. Havisham had once planned to be married, but she was jilted at the altar, and she has left everything in her house exactly the way it was on what was to have been her wedding day.
Mrs. Havisham's estate is unkempt and overgrown, and the house is dismal and closed up with iron bars. The interior of the house is sunless and lit by wax candles, and all the clocks have been stopped at twenty minutes to nine. On a long table in the great room, Mrs. Havisham's wedding cake still remains, covered with dust and cobwebs. Mrs. Havisham has instructed that the table not be cleared until she has died, after which she will be laid upon it for her wake.
Mrs. Havisham is pathetic, but imperious. When Pip comes over for the first time, she orders him to play so she can have some diversion. It is her intention that he grow up to marry Estella, a young girl whom she has adopted. Taught by Miss Havisham to reject all who would love her, Estella is cruel and unfeeling. Though Miss Havisham exhorts Pip to "love (Estella)", she cannot love him back, and the old lady's dream of marriage for them never happens.