Illustration of Pip visiting a graveyard

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

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In chapter 11 of Great Expectations, what does the table description reveal about Miss Havisham's character and relationships?

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In chapter 11 of Great Expectations, the description of the long table conveys that Miss Havisham became stuck in time as a result of being abandoned on her wedding day, barely values her own life, and regards her relatives as hypocrites. The fact that she has kept the wedding cake and other elements of the feast that was never realized indicates that she cannot let go of the past. Pip describes the table and its contents as giving the impression that “the house and the clocks [had] all stopped together.”

Not only is the elderly woman miserable, but she wants to make other people equally unhappy. The fungus and spiders on the table suggest advanced decay, which corresponds more with her moral than her physical condition. Her bitterness centers on her constant brooding about what might have been and the vengeful feelings she harbors toward the fiancé who left her long ago and, more broadly, toward all men.

The table is associated with Miss Havisham’s preoccupation with her relatives’ ingratitude and her own death. She states that she will be laid out on it after she dies. Later, she taunts her relatives by telling them where they will sit then as they “feast upon” her.

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