Dickens is famous for his eccentric characters, which characters have a particular effect on you and why?

Essay by mememellyJunior High, 9th gradeB, April 2006

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"Great Expectations" is about a main character, Pip, Who expects great things from life. The book starts when Pip is a young boy who is an orphan, his older sister and her husband, Joe raised him. The family is in the lower social class and Pip has the expectation of growing into a higher social status this after he meets Misses Havisham, this is where he first encounters the eccentric old woman. Dickens describes her and her lifestyle; he uses imagery in the novel to help you see her character. Another effective way in which dickens portrays Miss Havisham is how he introduces her with mystery.

"will be the finished curse upon him"-Miss Havisham talks of her death, but never says who "he" is. Chapter 11 page 89

This is when Miss Havishams relatives come to her house, as they do every year on her birthday but not to celebrate her birthday, to make sure she hasn't died.

Miss Havisham does not celebrate her birthday, this is because it was the day she was meant to get married, years ago. The coincidence of these two supposedly happy days creates more pathos when we see what she has become.

For Pips first encounter, he is rushed away to Miss Havishams house without even being asked if he wants to go, he is lead up an eerie staircase covered in cob webs and lit by candle light and into a mad old woman's room (Miss Havishams Room) and she is seen wearing a wedding dress.

"I saw speckled legged spiders with blotchy bodies running home to it, and running out from it, as if some circumstance of greatest occurrence were important to their interests."- Referring to the wedding cake, Chapter 11 page 84

When we first meet Miss Havisham, Dickens is also purposely vague so he can introduce the idea that she could be Pip's benefactor.

Charles Dickens published this book in parts, he published the chapters in the newspaper which means that most of the endings of the chapters are "cliff hangers" and rather sudden. Only later did it appear as a novel. Another reason that Miss Havisham is such an effective character is because Dickens based her on a woman he used to know in his youth.

Miss Havisham is a bitter old woman. She wants to take revenge on all men for the wrong that was done to her by one man, Compeyson, who left her standing at the altar. A woman with a severely broken heart, she lives her life as if time stopped at twenty minutes to nine and daylight does not exist, she only wears her wedding dress and is surrounded by decaying food. Her only tender emotions she reserves for her adopted daughter Estella who she raises to break men's hearts. Pip becomes a toy to her and a boy for Estella to practice on. Miss Havisham delights in the way that Estella torments Pip and likes to keep her relatives guessing as to whom she is to leave her fortune to.

Miss Havisham continues with her plan to use Estella as an instrument of revenge on the male sex until she comes to realise she has created a monster. Miss Havisham accuses her of being hard and ungrateful but Estella says she cannot give her love as she was never given it herself. She tries to undo some of the harm she has done by helping Pip with his plan for Herbert and she leaves her cousin Matthew a legacy on Pip's recommendation. At the end of her life she is distraught with guilt for what she has done to pip and Estella. Just before she died, she gave Pip some money to help Herbert, as she turned away her wedding dress caught alight on one of the candles used to light the darkened room but she died from the burns.

Reasons that I feel this way about Miss Havisham is due to the way Dickens describes herself and her lifestyle, he uses imagery in the novel to help you see her character, like the chapters 8 and 11.

"I crossed the staircase landing, and entered the room she indicated. ...It's a great cake. A bride's cake. Mine.'" - Chapter 11 page 84

Another reason why Miss Havisham is so effective is because she takes great pleasure in Pip being broken hearted. In chapter 12 she seems to enjoy Estella upsetting Pip as Miss Havisham urges Estella to

"Break their hearts and have no mercy!" Chapter 12 page 95

Estella is very beautiful but cruel and has been influenced by Miss Havishams hatred for men. Dickens also in this chapter creates humour through eccentric behaviour; this is shown in the conversation between Miss Havisham and Joe. Estella is entirely Miss Havishams creation, Miss Havisham only realises this when she quarrels with her in chapter 38. In this chapter Pip also realises and becomes disturbed by the way in which Miss Havisham is eager to know all about the men who are fascinated by Estella.

"Estella was set to wreak Miss Havisham's revenge on men" -Chapter 38 page 102.

And so, I conclude that due to Dickens' use of dramatic imagery, describing her house and Pips anticipation on entering the house, and how Dickens creates a mystery around Miss Havisham. He also incorporates a miss interpretation with Miss Havisham; Dickens makes you think she is Pips benefactor which creates more mystery about her. He also created a very appealing life story around Miss Havisham, and how she became so eccentric. Including how her relatives come once a year and compliment her when they are actually thinking "Oh the sour old bat hasn't quite died yet." It is also effective how she really does enjoy the cruelty of Estella because Miss Havisham really is completely insane. Dickens has done a good job at portraying a story thought the eyes of a young boy. It is a timeless book, some times the language and ways of thinking differ greatly after some years, but this book still remains enjoyable more than a hundred years later and truly is a classic.