The Theme Of Isolation In "Great Expectations" Through Miss Havisham

3267 words - 14 pages

Question: How does Dickens in his portrayal of Miss Havisham explore the theme of isolation?The oldest of eight children, Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812. Dickens experienced a very traumatic childhood which included the ordeal of seeing two of his brother pass away. John Dickens, his father, worked as a clerk in the Navy Pay Office, due to his occupation, the Dickens family had to move a lot. Financial problems led to the imprisonment of John Dickens, who couldn't afford to look after all his family. The whole of Charles Dickens' family soon followed in suite, except for Charles himself though. Instead Charles was taken out of school and made to work in a filthy warehouse, ...view middle of the document...

In a way the depressing character acts as a show piece of Charles's own experiences in life. He uses the character to explore the theme of isolation, to reflect Dickens's perception of women and to symbolise the 'diseased' upper class of the time.Through the use of imagery, characterisation, language and his use of dramatic devices, Dickens effectively portrays the theme of isolation through Miss Havisham.In "Great Expectations", Charles Dickens uses the surroundings and appearance of Miss Havisham to portray her isolation. Her surroundings illustrate isolation and neglection, Dickens uses Satis House to effectively convey this. The house is neglected and is separated from society, 'the great front entrance had two chains across it outside- and the first thing I noticed was, that the passage were all dark... only the candle lighted us'. The darkness of the house echoes the issue of isolation, because light is seen as a source of freedom. The chained doors reflect the neglection of Satis house and how Miss Havisham is locked away in her own house; separated from the rest of society. Also, Satis house is used to symbolise Miss Havisham's mental and physical state. The whole house is decaying; everything has been left the same as it was twenty years ago, and just like Miss Havisham herself, the house around her was decaying with her. 'Everything in that house had been stopped in time, like she doesn't want move forward anymore'. Another aspect which Dickens uses to illustrate Miss Havisham's isolation is time, in Miss Havisham's isolated and neglected world, time has no purpose. '... I saw that her watch had been stopped at twenty minutes to nine, and that a clock in the room had stopped at twenty minutes to nine.' Twenty minutes to nine was the time when Miss Havisham was jilted on her wedding day, twenty years ago. This is very melodramatic, and in many ways very unrealistic, but it is used by Dickens to portray Miss Havisham's isolation. Aswell as her surroundings, Dickens uses Miss Havisham's appearance to show her isolation. Miss Havisham's appearance is a catalyst that Dickens uses to represent her isolation, she wears the same clothes that she wore on her wedding day twenty years ago, 'she was dressed in rich materials...all of white. Her shoes were white...she had a long white veil...' here Dickens uses repetition to further strengthen his point, and effectively portray the theme of isolation. As already noted, Miss Havisham's character is very melodramatic, and highly unrealistic, but her theatrical character is used as a weapon by Dickens to strongly emphasise his belief that the rich of the time were arrogant and selfish. The very fact that she took the decision to separate herself from the rest of society brings up two different points, the first is that she only had that option open because of her wealth, and it is because of her stubbornness and arrogance that she chooses this path. Here Dickens is trying to emphasise the point that...

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