Essay PreviewMore ↓
The heart is a symbolic barometer in Great Expectations that carries us from chapter to pulsating chapter. The novel's characters are forever wearing their hearts on their sleeves and in the process end up baring their souls within the text itself, and without, to the reader. What is the significance of hearts and their many states as described when Pip unfolds his own dramatic rags-to-riches-to-grace tale? Several scenes probe Miss Havisham's psyche with words about the condition of her heart. By analyzing them, we may be able to guess to what purpose Charles Dickens employs the heart imagery so frequently and so effectively.
For all the allusions which connect Miss Havisham to death-upon seeing her at the dressing table, Pip is immediately reminded of "some ghastly waxwork" and "a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress," (93) -she is far from dead. Keeping her alive is the promise of youth: Estella and Pip. The promise the children give Miss Havisham, however, is not wholesome or optimistic, and neither is her communication with them. The first thing Miss Havisham reveals to Pip is that she suffers from a broken heart, "[uttering] the word...with strong emphasis, and with a weird smile that had a kind of boast," (94). This seems an odd confession for an adult to heave upon a child. Private miseries are kept quiet in order to spare children from the harsh reality of adult life.
But Miss Havisham is not worried about sparing anyone. Because she holds the family fortune, no one will insist that she snap out of her reverie of grief. Her intention is that Estella will learn to break men's hearts as recompense for Miss Havisham's having been broken. She admits to "sick fancies," and her demeanor so troubles Pip that he remarks, "Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it" (95). Yet Pip is ready to forgive Miss Havisham for reducing him to self-hatred, even on that very first day: He tells us that as she watches the card game, Miss Havisham had "the appearance of having dropped... under the weight of a crushing blow" (96). Her posture softens him and he returns to Satis House over and over, even as he knows he is "under" the house's "influence" and it makes him "continue at heart to hate [his] trade" (158).
How to Cite this Page
"Heart Imagery in Great Expectations." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Jul 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- A Tale of Two Endings of Great Expectations When Charles Dickens first drafted Great Expectations, his original ending to the novel provided a concrete conclusion for the story. However, when his editor asked him to revise the ending, he did so, stating that the revised ending was a “pretty… little piece of writing.” (Appendix A) The ambiguity of the revised ending, however, leaves much to be desired. In the original ending, when Biddy questions Pip about his current feelings toward Estella, he claims strongly that he is “sure and certain” that he is over Estella (Appendix A).... [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
647 words (1.8 pages)
- The Importance of the 'Great Expectations' by Charles Dickens Charles Dickens was born in 1812 and died in 1870. He lived in the Victorian era and was the most famous British novelist of the time, writing thirteen novels including ‘Oliver Twist,’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and many more. All of Dickens’ books were serialised, before publishing the novel as a whole. This meant that his books were full of many characters and plot twists in order to keep the reader interested. He often wrote about crime and punishment, childhood and social status.... [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
1059 words (3 pages)
- Dickens seems to develop characters who are so compelling that the reader needs to know what’s going to happen next... 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.... [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
1096 words (3.1 pages)
- In Great Expectations, Is Miss Havisham crazy and/or evil. The mad,eccentric and incredibly peculiar Miss Havisham,a wealthy dowager who lives in an old, rotting mansion secluded from the outside world is certainly one of the most memorable creations in the book Great Expectations written by Charles Dickens. From the first introductory scene on encountering Miss Havisham’s character it is immediately clear that she is supposed to leave a lasting impression on the reader. Dickens uses a vast variety of imagery and word choice to describe the appearance of the house in which Miss Havisham lives .... [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
1321 words (3.8 pages)
The Presentation of Miss Havisham in Chapter 8 and in Chapter 49 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- The Presentation of Miss Havisham in Chapter 8 and in Chapter 49 of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens In chapter 8 of 'Great Expectations', the author, Charles Dickens, initially presents Miss Havisham through Pip's eyes as an eccentric old lady "her hair was white", who lives in seclusion with her adopted daughter, Estella. She lives vicariously through Estella, all her inner thoughts and feelings are brought to life through Estella; therefore she is able to teach her to break the hearts of men.... [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
817 words (2.3 pages)
- In my paper, titled, The Dark and Light, the dark and light imagery in the novella Heart of Darkness, will be described as a demonstration of how much the this imagery is portrayed, and how this it was so significant in the novella. Throughout Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses a plethora of simple colors, objects, and surroundings to convey multilayered images and ideas. These numerous symbols and events in the story have a more in-depth meaning, and are extremely important throughout the story. Throughout the entire novella, Joseph Conrad uses simple events to describe significant dark and light imagery.... [tags: imagery, heart of darkness, conrad, ]
1192 words (3.4 pages)
- Pip's Excpectations in Jane Austen's Great Expectations In the novel 'Great Expectations', the central character Pip has many expectations thrust upon him by others, as well as himself, from a very early age. What do we discover about these expectations and the characters who 'demand' great things of Pip and does he live up to the expectations of himself and others. In the novel 'Great Expectations', many characters have expectations in Pip.... [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
768 words (2.2 pages)
- The novel Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens is a compelling book which many people consider to be one of Charles Dickens’ greatest works. Great Expectations is a novel that has many elements that help the growth and development of Phillip Pirrip, better known as Pip. But none of these elements can be more evident than the kinds of love and their different roles in Pips life. In order to answer how love has influenced Pip’s life we must first define what love is. According to Miss Havisham love is, The different types of love and their roles in Pips life is represented differently by the different characters.... [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
3113 words (8.9 pages)
- The Mannequin The novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is one of unrequited love and the desperation for elitism for Pip, a poor orphan boy. Pip is starstruck by Estella, the haughty and cruel, even violent, “daughter” of a rich and eccentric elderly woman named Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham controls and teaches Estella instructions to break the hearts of men as her own personal vendetta against all men after her love for a man is unrequited. Estella has no feelings and even admits that she has “… not bestowed [her] tenderness anywhere” (251).... [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
1332 words (3.8 pages)
- Great Expectations Is Great Expectations the story of the becoming of a snob. Phillip Pirrip or commonly know as Pip, a young orphan living with his sister and her husband in the marshes of Kent, sits in a cemetery one evening looking at his parents' tombstones. Suddenly, an escaped convict springs up from behind a tombstone, grabs Pip, and orders him to bring him food and a file for his leg irons. Pip obeys, but the fearsome convict is soon captured anyway. The convict protects Pip by claiming to have stolen the items himself.... [tags: Great Expectations Essays]
2924 words (8.4 pages)
Pip eventually recognizes the depravity to which he has given in, but when he confronts Estella and Miss Havisham with his heartache, he refuses to assign blame. He explains, "I think that in the endurance of her own trial, she forgot mine," (386) excusing Miss Havisham for allowing him to think he might be given Estella as an entitlement of his place in society. Miss Havisham awakens to her own complicity; Pip "saw Miss Havisham put her hand to her heart" (386), a gesture steeped in guilt. She finally sees the people who love her as they are in the light of day, no longer held up as salves or foils to her past. Later, she again calls Pip to Satis House, seeking his forgiveness. Pip tells us, "[she] dropped to her knees at my feet; with her folded hands raised to me in the manner in which, when her poor heart was young and fresh and whole" (421).
Miss Havisham discusses her crimes against nature, saying, "I stole [Estella's] heart away and put ice in its place" to which Pip replies, "Better...to have left her a natural heart, even to be bruised or broken" (422). Pip is able to forgive Miss Havisham because he loves her, and because he too has withheld his natural heart, from Joe and Biddy, in order to ascend the ladder of class. As a boy, he came under the spell of Miss Havisham's grief, was led astray by it, and must finally acknowledge his own complacency in order to forgive himself and become a proper man.
Dickens cleverly employs the viscera of the heart to symbolize the burdens and pleasures of personal relations, and to serve as a reliable gauge of a character's moral center. Miss Havisham is an obvious example of his efforts: She hoards pain in her heart, teaches others to withhold in their hearts affection, and in the end is wretchedly sorry for having allowed the past to kill any promise of a happy present. In the end, Pip is able to learn from Miss Havisham, and thus exiles himself from Joe and Biddy in order to let go of the ghosts of his childhood. Only then can he encounter Estella on equal footing, in the ruins of Satis House, to forge an ambiguous, though certainly not ruinous, future.
Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1942.