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How Successful Is Dickens in His Presentation of Female Characters?

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 08:14 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 65.9 
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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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