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When we first met Magwich he seems to be a nasty and manipulative convict, bullying a small, naive little boy called Pip for basic food of which he is lacking, shortly after Pip meets him again but your opinion of Magwich changes entirely he defends Pip of the stealing actions he bullied him into. Then he is unthought-of for some time in the book until he appears again after Pips transformation from young lower class boy to a gentleman. The fact he is the reason of Pips transformation shows him as the hero, but he is still wanted for crime.
Magwich from the first time we meet him is described in great detail by timid Pip who isn’t described in a lot of detail at all, almost as if his identity is left for the reader to decide. Magwich is described as ...“a fearful man, all in course gray, with a great iron on his leg. A man with no hat, and with broken shoes and with an old rag tied around his head”. The fact that he isn’t wearing a hat in the Victorian times was considered rude, however he is wearing an rag proving he is dignified and polite but “old rag” suggests he is poor and of the lower class. The setting when Magwich first appears is at the “graveyard” there seems to be an air of death, raw and gloomy setting. The setting seems too described in great depth as if it’s important to the story; the setting seems to mirror Magwich bleak and raw and lonely and isolated. This seems to represent his life and neglection.
Whereas the same setting for Pip is peaceful place to remember his late mother and father, seemingly now he is left with this elder sister who treats him and her blacksmith husband, Joe, terribly.
As well as this when we first meet Miss Havisham in chapter 8 she is described with a lengthy description also. Her appearance is described as skeleton like and decaying. She is trapped in a time warp due to her own accord, living in a neglected house in the same room at the exact same time as her soon to be husband competent left her, the misfortune of her neglection left her bitter and seemingly slightly twisted for example she wants Pip and Estella to “play”.
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"Exploring the Characters of Havisham and Magwich in Dickens' Great Expectations." 123HelpMe.com. 20 Jul 2018
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She seems an eccentric old lady, living in her past, at the exact time and minute of the moment she was happy. Whereas now she seems bitter due to her misfortune in love with competent. She looks after young and beautiful Estella who she uses to project her inner, bitter feelings. She teaches Estella to break young men’s hearts as if she is taking her heartbreak and misfortune out on Pip, this plan succeeds as Pip falls for Estella and she treats him terribly proving Miss Havisham is a bitter old woman who never has Pips best interests at heart.
Mirror imagery of Miss Havisham and Magwich:
Pips first impression of both characters Magwich and Havisham seem to mirror each other but with the exception of Magwich being forced to be imprisoned and Miss Havisham being purposefully imprisoned proving the both seem to mirror each other a lot but for different reasons entirely such as... they both betray Pip at some point in the novel however Magwich seems to do it out of love so he can have a gentlemanly upbringing whereas Miss Havisham betrays him for her own selfish reasons- she takes her hate of men due to her misfortune on to poor, innocent Pip.
One way Miss Havisham and Magwich are clearly linked in the novel is the way they both seem to have animal imagery; Magwich is described as “growling” which isn’t normally associated with a man making you wonder if his personality is beastly. And Miss Havisham seems to live in wild animal like conditions as if she’s hibernating, as she doesn’t see daylight she has no recognition of time or date and protects her young by hurting others.
He being a convict shows he is isolated and forced to be imprisoned however on the other hand Miss Havisham is imprisoned purposely of her own accord, never seeing daylight again. Another factor showing them to mirror each other is their religious beliefs; Miss Havisham has a prayer book resting on her dressing table collecting cobwebs possibly insinuating she has lost her faith due to her misfortune with men. Though because it’s a prayer book instead of a bible may show she never was religious it was simply for marriage reasons only. I feel this reference to the “prayer book” in the novel made no impact to the reader. Dickens could have made more references to the book for example making a stronger insinuation that she has lost her faith instead of just stating it was collecting “cobwebs".
As well as this they both seem to contrast with Pip. Magwich contrast with Pip is very noticeable from the first chapter. Magwich is associated with animal qualities and not a polite men whereas Pip seems to be a perfect gentleman even when Magwich was treating him terribly he remained to call him “sir”, Proving he is very respectful , probably due to his strict sister who she brags as bringing him up “by hand”, no matter what the circumstances. I find this characteristic in Pip is also proven later on in the novel, when Estella treats him terribly he remains a gentleman. As the novel progresses however Magwich and Pip seem to get more and more in common...
In the first chapter Pip seems very afraid of Magwich, when he threatens him however when Pip becomes a gentleman and Magwich is reintroduced into the novel, and Magwich tells Pip he is his father, they seem to have a great deal of similarities as pose to the former differences.
Miss Havisham also contrasts with Pip. However as Magwich grows as a character and you change your opinion of him Miss Havisham doesn’t seem to change from her bitter ways throughout. Proving great character development from Magwich but no antithesis for Miss Havisham.