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How Successful Is Dickens in His Presentation of Female Characters?

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 08:14 AM
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There are many female characters in Great Expectations, but most of them are quite    

incidental and of no great significance to the plot.   Some of them however are essential to

the story and play a large part in the plot.  

Miss Havisham, combined with Estella are the people who are the ‘snobby’

influence in Pips life, they seem to become desirable characters to Pip after he meets them

for the first time at Satis house.   Their values do battle with his own at the end of chapter

9; the values that Miss Havisham and Estella have introduced to him, and Joe's humanistic

values that he has grown up with.   Questions have been raised over whether Miss

Havisham and Estellas are     believable as actual characters.   Miss Havisham can be

described as over-dramatised as a       decaying part of a decaying house where time has

been suspended.   She is calculated and       spiteful almost to unrealistic odds.   There is also

a hint of witchery in her character, evident in chapter 29 where she tells Pip to love

Estella; “ ‘If she tears your heart to pieces - and as it gets older and stronger, it will tear

deeper - love her, love her, love her!’................it could not have sounded from her lips

more like a curse.”   This passage, where Miss Havisham is charged with almost a sexual

energy, is quite frightening to the young Pip.   She has created Estellas to wreak her own

revenge on men, and is successful in this, but in the process becomes devoted to Estella

herself, and then feels pain when Estella cannot return her feelings as she has been

rendered ‘heartless’ by Miss Havisham's upbringing.   The fact that she shows remorse at

the end of the book gives her character an added depth, and therefore most people feel she        

becomes more realistic.   She is a victim of her own...


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