Back in the days of high school, I had this English teacher who was obsessed with Charles Dickens's Great Expectations. We spent an entire semester on it. First we read it, then we watched various film adaptations (some of which had me literally banging my head on the desk).
The point is, I became quite familiar with the story. It really is a brilliant tale, even if Dickens does meander in his writing. It's also a story that very much so needs to be read to really get why it's so brilliant since all film adaptation are head smackingly horrible.
The story is a coming of age novel about a boy named Pip. Great Expectations starts out when Pip is just a boy living with his abusive sister and her push over husband. One day he meets an escaped convict who threatens him into bringing him food and a file to cut his shakles.
A little later he meets Miss Havisham, a rich mad woman. Miss Havisham is looking for a playmate for Estella, a young girl she's adopted. With Miss Havisham's goading, Pip falls for Estella.
Years later, a lawyer arrives at Pip's doorstep and informs that he now has a benefactor. He is to receive a large some of money and leave for London where he will become a gentlemen. Pip mistakenly believes Miss Havisham to be the benefactor. He goes along with the terms of his benefactor, if memory serves me correct, a large factor in his decision is his belief that if he becomes a proper gentlemen then he will be of standing to be able to marry Estella.
Long story short, things do not go as planned and Pip's future holds many surprises and unsettling truths.
Now that you know the back story, I'm going to delve further into Miss Havisham, one of the most iconic figures in literature.
Miss Havisham comes from a long line of family money. In her youth, she fell for a man that everyone tried to warn her was only out to use her. Being stubborn and fool hearty she ignored everyone's advice and proceeded with plans to marry the man. On the day of her wedding, she is left standing alone at the alter.
Miss Havisham suffers a break. She becomes a shut in, leaving house and her life forever frozen on the day of her greatest tragedy, slowly rotting away as she refuses to move on. Her break is so significant that she remains in her wedding dress throughout the story and, at one point, Pip stumbles upon the room where her wedding feast was to take place. Everything is still set out and the food has been left to rot over the years.
When it comes to Estella, Miss Havisham's mind is set on only one thing. Revenge. Revenge on every man there ever was or ever will be. She grooms Estella to be cold and calculating and takes great pleasure in watching Pip become infatuated with her, knowing that Estella will ultimately reject him.
After many years,when Pip and Estella are adults, Miss Havisham is finally confronted with the full weight of her actions. Unable to cope with the guilt, she lights herself on fire. Only on her death bed does she lament her manipulation of Pip and Estella.
The question I'm posing now is whether Miss Havisham's losses and pain excuse her behavior the same way an insanity plea works in a court of law, or if Miss Havisham was just plane evil in the way she hurt Pip and Estella and especially in the way she ruined Estella by making her an instrument of revenge? Was Miss Havisham's death bed repentance a wake up call, or evidence that she knew exactly what she was doing the whole time?
I'd love to hear your opinions.
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A Few Random AtoZ Blogs:
Because the AtoZ participants list is so massive, I don't include it here. However, I would like to give some love to my fellow bloggers, so I thought I'd pick a couple of random blogs to link to that y'all can check out at your discretion.
- Scouring Monk: Tony Laplume writes a lot. This is just the central nexus of a series of blogs (Comics Reader, Fan Companion, Hub City, Sigild V, Film Fan, Your Torch Will Be Snuffed, and one named Tony Laplume) he maintains on a variety of subjects. Here he attempts to unify them all and also write more gibberish.
- Juli Page Morgan: Author of Romances that Rock!- Stories about Rock Gods and the women who love them.