Describe Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. What is known about her and how does that relate or influence her character?we have been ask lots of things to do with the novel Great Expectations by...

Describe Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. What is known about her and how does that relate or influence her character?

we have been ask lots of things to do with the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, and I would like to know a little more.

Thanks for your help.

Expert Answers
mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Great Expectations, while Miss Havisham has perpetuated her hatred for men and desire to avenge herself upon them by turning Estella into a heartless woman, the old gentlewoman is not without redemption.  And, it is this change of heart in Miss Havisham which makes her all the more tragic.  For, while she has lived her youth in being deluded by Compeyson, the villain whom she believed a gentleman that loved her, she also has lived her adult life in another delusion:  she has believed that all men are heartless and should be punished by instruments such as Estella. However, she rues her mistake after Pip visits Estella as a young gentleman.

When Miss Havisham overhears what is said between Estella and Pip, she places her hand on her heart as she listens,

'It would have been cruel in Miss Havisham to torture me through all these years with a van hope and an idle pursuit, she she had reflected on the gravity of what she did.  Bit I think she did not.  I think that in the endurance of her own trial, she forgot mine, Estella.'

Moved by the genuiness of Pip's emotion, Miss Havisham regrets having been so cruel to Pip.  So, when Pip responds to Miss Havisham's note, he returns to her home where she arranges for Pip to obtain money from Mr. Jaggers for the safety of Provis.  However, before Pip can leave, Miss Havisham instructs him that she has signed a paper and asks him,

If you can ever write under my name, 'I forgive her,' though ever so long after my broken heart is dust--pray do it!'

No static character, Miss Havisham has been moved by Pip's love for Estella; her cold, dying heart has again been charged, and she is thus redeemed from her sins of heartlessness:

'Yes, yes, I know it.  But, Pip--my dear!' There was an earnest womanly compassion for me in her new affection.

chicagorilke23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, the character of Miss Havisham is much like her name suggests- she is a sham. Her money and status are her life extension because she is dead inside. The stopped clocks throughout Satis House mark her exact time of death. The clocks that are kept from functioning reflect how Miss Havisham has allowed for the decay of her own health and well being.

She is a woman scorned and feels the jilting of her years ago by a former love to be a just cause for her treatment of other people. This constant state of anger and hurt are why she feels the need to feed the dispute over her wealth by other family members. The pain Miss Havisham suffers also explains why she feels the need to meddle in the interactions of Pip and Estella.

The failure of Miss Havisham's own quest for love, fuels her encouragement of Pip to love Estella. Sadly, it is also what drives her to encourage Estella to tease Pip in the hopes that he fall in love with her, only to have Estella break Pip's heart "for practice.” Miss Havisham succeeds in turning Estella into a frigid woman that leads men on for "fun." Sadly, she also succeeds in encouraging Pip to become a gentleman and love Estella. The process of becoming a gentleman also stripped his ability to really love Estella. Misery loves company and Miss Havisham is tragic example of this idea.

jess1999 | Student

Miss Havisham is a very wealthy female who has a deep hatred for men . Her hatred for men started off when her fiance ditched her at the wedding , and basically scammed her . That incident has basically made her gone a bit crazy. For example , Miss Havisham stopped all the clocks to the time when she found out about how he called off the wedding. She also wears her wedding dress all the time . Later on , when Miss Havisham adopted Estella , she raised Estella into a woman who has no heart and feelings. She basically raised Estella to play with men's heart in order to get revenge for what had happened in the past .

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Great Expectations

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