Miss havisham is the most important character in great expectations. how far do you agree?

Miss Havisham is the most important character in Great Expectations. How far do you agree? Miss Havisham appears regularly throughout the novel and is a key character. However, Pip is the protagonist, he is the one the book is about so he must be the most important character? This is what it would seem if you don’t look deeply enough: But I think the further you search, the more you will see how important Miss Havisham’s character really is and you will eventually conclude that she is most important. She is involved in many themes of the novel such as Pip’s Great expectations, the class system and how your class doesn’t determine character. This was a very real and important issue during the time the novel was written as class was still very important and how her character was so integrated with this theme makes her of some value. The title, ‘ Great Expectations’ can easily be seen as the main theme of the book. More to the point, the person which sparked Pip’s ‘ great expectations’ was of course Miss Havisham, which must show a great deal of importance. She was the person who opened Pip’s eyes to a ‘ better’ life, changing his sights completely. He could no longer accept being a simple blacksmith apprentice with his simple brother in law Joe Gargery who at that time was the only person who had shown Pip any affection whatsoever. “ I had believed in the forge as the glowing road to manhood and independence. Within a single year all this was changed. Now, it was all coarse and common, and I would not have had Miss Havisham and Estella see it on any account. ” Language such as glowing gives the reader the image of a nice, warm and comfortable fire place where you can fit in and be very content. Whereas coarse makes the reader think of very rigid, sharp and rough things as well as discomfort and agitation showing how unhappy he was and how he really hadn’t fitted in smoothly because of his new found views. This changed and impacted his future considerably. All of a sudden he wanted to be one of them, and was ashamed of his roots and his family. He didn’t want to grow into manhood anymore, because now he wanted more, by becoming a gentleman. His expectations had now clearly changed and this could only be put down to meeting Miss Havisham. This change leads him on his fantastic and eventful journey. However, the book begins with his encounter with Magwitch and there is an argument that this was for good reason. He is the true benefactor, so he is the one who starts Pip’s journey. Pip’s first visit and impressions of Miss Havisham are described at length painting a very detailed picture for the reader. Dickens achieves this by using different techniques in this passage to describe both the house and Miss Havisham. Strong imagery through powerful adjectives, similes and other methods all make it seemingly an important occasion. For example: “ I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. ” Dickens chooses his words very carefully to maximise the effect on the reader. He tries to show her fragility and sadness through adjectives such as withered and sunken this provokes some sympathy for Miss Havisham especially for me as a modern reader because we just see an old heartbroken lady. But the Victorian reader would be likely to be more shocked as this is not what they would expect of a lady of higher class. It shows how he wanted to portray Miss Havisham as an interesting character and one which will intrigue readers. This is very important as one of her main purposes was to sell more copies of his struggling magazine, in which the story was first published. This format meant how the public responded to one issue must have altered what, or more importantly who, was featured in later issues. Miss Havisham is one of the characters mentioned throughout the novel and many chapters were used to talk about her background. This suggests she added a lot towards the novel’s popularity. Miss Havisham’s relationship with Estella is both important and interesting. It is built on control rather than love: Miss Havisham acts more like a puppet master than a mother. Estella’s purpose is to break men’s hearts just as Miss Havisham’s heart had been broken all those years before. This is noticed by Pip: “ I saw in this, that Estella was set to wreak Miss Havisham’s revenge on men, ” Words such as wreak and revenge belong coming from an evil mastermind which wants to cause great carnage. This shows how strongly Dickens wants to portray Pip’s real feelings about the way in which he had been rejected by Estella and how dramatic Miss Havisham’s actions were. But before this, he embarked on his huge journey to be with her. His love for her was one of the main driving forces behind his quest to become a gentleman. He felt he would win her over if he appeared to be upper class like her. She had great control over him because of this. He would do her every bidding if it meant she would allow herself to be won over by him. This opens the readers’ eyes to an emerging chain of power: Estella is controlled by Miss Havisham, due to the wealth she wishes to inherit and Pip is controlled by Estella, as he is so desperately in love with her. Therefore indirectly Miss Havisham was controlling Pip’s life and feelings. This is obvious towards the end of the novel as Miss Havisham breaks down in guilt for Pip’s broken heart repeatedly crying: “ What have I done! What have I done! ” The repetition of these words is found throughout this section. It demonstrates how changed she is. She used to be a powerful manipulator but now she is a weak, pathetic lady blabbering in guilt. Her mental health is clearly questionable and she is very much a shadow of her previous self. This again adds to some sympathy the reader might have for her as she clearly is very remorseful and her vulnerability is brought to the fore. But this can be countered as it also confirms how she knew that she controlled and inspired Estella’s actions. She was the one who felt profoundly apologetic despite the fact that she wasn’t the one who broke his heart. A much simpler and basic reason for the regularly occurring repetition in Dickens work is because of the way the book was written. For each weekly instalment Dickens had to fill 10 columns which was a mean feet. So through characters like Miss Havisham he repeated lines which served this purpose. This means Miss Havisham was quite important to Dickens as a writer because he knew he could repeat her speech giving him a longer piece. I feel the topic of class and status is key, and something Dickens wanted to highlight throughout the novel. The very unusual circumstance of Pip starting as lower class and becoming higher class, unsurprisingly came from Dickens own life. But this was not the only example of Dickens trying to show irregular behaviour according to class. Miss Havisham was very different to your average upper class lady. During that period society dictated ladies ought to be conservative and ladylike. She is far from that: She doesn’t seem to care how she is presented or (keeping up a certain image). Dickens described many distinct features all of which a Victorian person would very much not expect and used Pip’s wrong conclusion to emphasise this. “ She had not quite finished dressing, for she had but one shoe on — the other was on the table near her hand — her veil was but half arranged, her handkerchief and chain were not put on, ” This emphasises the importance of Miss Havisham. She is one of the key characters who depict Dickens’ underlying theme of irregularities in class. A different view is that the novel has the quality of a buldingsroman, with Pip being Charles Dickens. This would imply he is ultimately the most important character. But the only real evidence of this is Pip’s climb up the class ladder. I believe he was just aiming to make a subtle statement through Pip and Miss Havisham. I interpret Satis house as a symbol of Miss Havisham’s character. It is indeed very peculiar and its haunted looks mirror her almost disturbing personality. Plus her inability to move on from the day her heart was broken is reflected in the house as everything is as it was on that day. The similarity is also seen in Miss Havisham’s decline and eventual death as the house is torn to ruins soon after her passing. The importance of this is only seen in the last scene which involves Pip and Estella leaving the ruins of Satis house. “ I took her hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; ” It feels like their new relationship and the rest of their life is sprouting from the ruins of Miss Havisham. Dickens has obviously chosen his final scene and setting very carefully and has used it as a metaphor showing how the rest of their lives will have originated from Miss Havisham and now their future is moving on from there. I hope at least that I have highlighted some of the reasons why Miss Havisham is in my mind the most important character in ‘ Great Expectations’. She is used to stress the important message of how class doesn’t fix your personality, all the way through to how she simply provides excitement and fascination for the reader. She really has many roles in the novel, and is the only one who seems in control, despite how ridiculous her life has become. She has to be the most mysterious character in the novel, the person who has the most effect on other characters, as well as on the reader. Therefore she is the most important both in the fiction and in reality.