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Great Expectations > GE, Chapter 08

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message 1: by Tristram (last edited Jan 22, 2017 06:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tristram Shandy Hello Pickwickians,

today I have the honour to introduce a key chapter of the novel – namely the first encounter of Pip and Miss Havisham, but, what is even more important, the first encounter of Pip and Estella.

After a dismal breakfast at Mr. Pumblechook’s, where Pip is treated to the most meagre morsels of the repast, such as crumbs and watered-down milk, as well as to arithmetics, his host and he go to see Miss Havisham. The first impression we get of the manor, which is, ironically called Satis House, though it lacks so much, already gives away a lot about Miss Havisham:

”Within a quarter of an hour we came to Miss Havisham’s house, which was of old brick, and dismal, and had a great many iron bars to it. Some of the windows had been walled up; of those that remained, all the lower were rustily barred. There was a courtyard in front, and that was barred; so we had to wait, after ringing the bell, until some one should come to open it. While we waited at the gate, I peeped in (even then Mr. Pumblechook said, ‘And fourteen?’ but I pretended not to hear him), and saw that at the side of the house there was a large brewery. No brewing was going on in it, and none seemed to have gone on for a long long time.”


How did this description strike you?

They are received by a young girl, who is extremely beautiful but also quite haughty and who gives Mr. Pumblechook a downer by pointing out to him that Miss Havisham has no wish to see him but only the boy, and so Mr. Pumblechook has to stay outside. We get another telling impression of the premises here:

”The brewery buildings had a little lane of communication with it, and the wooden gates of that lane stood open, and all the brewery beyond stood open, away to the high enclosing wall; and all was empty and disused. The cold wind seemed to blow colder there than outside the gate; and it made a shrill noise in howling in and out at the open sides of the brewery, like the noise of wind in the rigging of a ship at sea.”


Pip somehow feels intimidated by Estella, who calls him “boy” all the time although she is not really much older than he. She leaves him in front of a door in a dark passageway, and there is nothing for him but to knock at the door, and soon he finds himself in the presence of Miss Havisham, who is described as follows:

” Whether I should have made out this object so soon if there had been no fine lady sitting at it, I cannot say. In an arm-chair, with an elbow resting on the table and her head leaning on that hand, sat the strangest lady I have ever seen, or shall ever see.

She was dressed in rich materials,—satins, and lace, and silks,—all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white. Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table. Dresses, less splendid than the dress she wore, and half-packed trunks, were scattered about. 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 watch and chain were not put on, and some lace for her bosom lay with those trinkets, and with her handkerchief, and gloves, and some flowers, and a Prayer-Book all confusedly heaped about the looking-glass.

It was not in the first few moments that I saw all these things, though I saw more of them in the first moments than might be supposed. But I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre and was faded and yellow. 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. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone. Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage lying in state. Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress that had been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now, waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me. I should have cried out, if I could.”


Again, what were your first impressions when reading this description?

Of course, Pip is very diffident in the presence of this strange lady and only answers her questions in monosyllables, all the while taking in other details, e.g. the fact that every clock or watch in the room has stopped at twenty minutes to nine, that the lady apparently had never put on her second shoe, and that when she refers to her broken heart, she shows “a weird smile that had a kind of boast in it”. It’s quite interesting a small boy like Pip should notice this last detail.

Miss Havisham makes Estella come back and play at cards with Pip. At first, Estella does not want to but the old lady tells the young girl something that Pip at first thought he did not hear correctly, namely that she could break his heart. Estella wins all games, she “beggars” [!] Pip and she also makes him feel low and common by making fun of his hands, his boots and the fact that he calls the knaves Jacks. Pip, of course, feels very ill at ease

”Her contempt for me was so strong, that it became infectious, and I caught it.”


and finally begs to be given permission to leave, which Miss Havisham grants, not before telling him to come back in six days and asking him what he thinks of Estella. Pip then is led outside by Estella and given something to eat and drink. He is blinded by the daylight outside and has the impression that he has been inside the House not just a few hours but days, and while he is eating and drinking in the yard, he has strange visions of Estella appearing in different places but also of Miss Havisham hanging by the neck and calling out for him. Estella’s bad treatment of him makes him doubt his own value and wish he had not been brought up so common. He also reflects on all the injustices he suffered from his sister and the following quotation shows the more mature narrator:

”In the little world in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand gave her no right to bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts, and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally timid and very sensitive.“


A very moving passage, which tells us, maybe, also something of the injustices Dickens had suffered when he was a child and had to work in a factory instead of receiving proper education.

The end of the chapter shows that Estella has also achieved some influence over Pip because on his four-mile way back home, Pip muses on all the things Estella pointed out to him and Miss Havisham as showing him to be a low-bred person.

What might Miss Havisham’s motives be for having Pip come over to her house?
What do you think of Estella? Is she a victim of Miss Havisham, or in league with her?


message 2: by Xan Shadowflutter (last edited Jan 22, 2017 08:30AM) (new) - added it

Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) Powerful chapter, powerful description.

If I were Pip, I'm sure I could smell the stench of carrion everywhere; there is also the sense of time standing still, timepieces testifying to the death of Miss Havisham and the manor at a specific moment in time. The only thing missing from Miss Havisham's attire is cobwebs.

Satis House, there's a tease if there ever was one.

It's hard to like Estella, but how would you fare living in the land of decay and darkness under the guardianship of Miss Havisham? Miss Havisham reminds me of Arthur's mother and Miss Wade, both Little Dorrit characters. Is Pip to Miss Havisham what Arthur is to his mom and Estella to Miss Havisham what Tattycoram is to miss Wade?


message 3: by Lynne (last edited Jan 22, 2017 10:06AM) (new) - added it

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) This chapter has so much it is hard to take it all in. I can't help thinking that if I am overwhelmed by the description, how much more so would poor Pip have been actually being there and seeing it. He has no frame of reference from which to draw since his experience of people, places and things has been so circumspect. His only experience of people (as far as we know) has been the few locals, or traveling people (and probably not many of them). Have there even been any other children in his life? Even if so, nothing would have prepared him for Estella.

I think Estella is both a victim of Havisham and in league with her. In the same way that kidnapped people often end up identifying with their kidnappers, Estella seems to identify to a degree with Havisham. We don't know yet what their relationship is. It seems apparent to me that the whole purpose of having Pip over "to play" is rather to play with him, toy with him like cats with a mouse. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that Havisham was gravely disappointed by something (probably a man) and has spent the rest of her life thus far enjoying her martyrdom. Her sole raison d'etre seems to be to make men suffer and to teach Estella to do the same. Ironically, if she really wanted to make men suffer, she could have done a much better job of it had she stayed in the world.

Of course Pip would be intimidated by it all. The saying goes that no one can make you feel inferior but you-----but that is hard even for a mentally healthy, self-confident adult to manage all the time. The only person in Pip's life who has given him any feelings of self-worth, is Joe, and in Pip's now expanded view of human nature, even Joe is "common", though Joe has no problem with it.

Finally, no doubt that Dickens is channeling his younger self here through Pip. Even very successful adults can feel the wounds of childhood profoundly. Instead of seeing a psychiatrist (which wasn't an option!), Dickens was able to write.


Peter Tristram wrote: "Hello Pickwickians,

today I have the honour to introduce a key chapter of the novel – namely the first encounter of Pip and Miss Havisham, but, what is even more important, the first encounter of ..."


This is one of the greatest of all chapters that Dickens wrote. I enjoyed your phrase that Satis House "already gives away a lot about Miss Havisham." Miss Havisham and Satis House are perfect representatives of each other. Both person and physical structure project ruin. Consider the description of the brewery where "[n]o brewing was going on in it, and none seemed to have gone on for a long time."

The physical structure of the brewery that is now one of neglect and a place that reflects the past, what used to be, fits perfectly with the human figure of Miss Havisham. Pip observes of Miss Havisham's clothes that everything that "ought to be white, had been white long ago" and that the figure of Miss Havisham, once "the rounded figure of a young woman ... had shrunk to skin and bone." What was once a human figure is now a "skeleton." Brewery and person reflect and speak of a present that is one of decay and neglect. Each is an emblem of the past, a past that is yet unaccounted for, but a past that we know began at twenty minutes to nine sometime in the past. Why this time? What was the reason for time being suspended and the world of both a human and a place beginning to crumble into ruins?

We shall see.


Peter Many, many questions are raised in this chapter. If we sift through the ruins of Miss Havisham's room and her appearance it is evident that a wedding was to occur, but never did. How long has Miss Havisham been marking this event? Clearly, from her description, her dress, and her surroundings she has experienced immense trauma as a result.

There is a second female who lives at Satis house whose name is Estella. We know as readers of Dickens that a person's name is often very reflective of their personality. The name Estella is suggestive of both star and light, and Estella's first activity in the novel is to lead Pip into the dark house by a side door that had "two great chains across it." We read that Estella had "left a burning candle" by the entrance and later leaves Pip and "took the candle with her." We are told at one point "[Estella] came along the dark passage like a star."

This chapter is full of both light and darkness and a close reading further reveals some interesting events and objects that lurk in the shadows. Pip thinks he overhears Miss Havisham tell Estella "You can break his heart." Pip learns that he is perceived as "a common labouring-boy," calls "the knaves, Jacks," has "course hands" and "thick boots." All of these events lead Pip to cry and to question his own self worth for the first time.

Blended into this chapter are echoes of previous events in the earlier chapters as well. When Estella feeds Pip he observes that she did so "as insolently as if I were a dog in disgrace." When Estella brings Pip into the house he notices "two chains across it outside" and then, as Pip is leaving the premises he has a "fancy" that he sees "a great wooden beam" where a figure "all in yellow white ... hung ... and that the face was Miss Havisham's" and then Pip discovers there was no figure at all. Perhaps the most eerie event of all is that Pip's fancy also conjured up a "shrill noise in howling in and out at the open sides of the brewery, like the noise in the rigging of a ship at sea."

Chains, wooden hanging beams, food linked to eating like a dog in disgrace and the eerie sounds of winds and sounds in the rigging of ships at sea. While Pip's past is brief in both time and years, the presence of Pip's convict seems to stalk him yet.


Linda | 712 comments Wow. Pip just entered the House of Horrors.

I haven't read all of Dickens' works yet, but I'll go ahead and agree with Peter that it is probably one of the greatest chapters he must have ever written. I'll likely go back and reread it before moving on to the next chapter.

I have to admit that I laughed with delight at this exchange:

"Oh!" she said. "Did you wish to see Miss Havisham?"
"If Miss Havisham wished to see me," returned Mr. Pumblechook, discomfited.
"Ah!" said the girl; "but you see, she don't."



Tristram Shandy Linda wrote: "Wow. Pip just entered the House of Horrors.

I haven't read all of Dickens' works yet, but I'll go ahead and agree with Peter that it is probably one of the greatest chapters he must have ever wri..."


I couldn't help feeling that for once, Estella's haughtiness was to a good effect and that it served Old Pumblechook right ...


Tristram Shandy Peter,

the star and light imagery connected with Estella and the meaning of her name are important to mention here. Stars may give hope to people, and they surely give guidance to sailors or those who find themselves alone in the countryside. On the other hand, they are virtually impossible to grasp, which makes them a symbol of hopes that will never fulfil. Does this mean to imply that Pip would be better served by giving Estella a wide berth? Maybe, she will not prove a star but a will-o'-the-wisp, after all ;-)


Peter Tristram wrote: "Peter,

the star and light imagery connected with Estella and the meaning of her name are important to mention here. Stars may give hope to people, and they surely give guidance to sailors or those..."



Tristram

We will have to wait and see, and Dickens does love to make us wait, doesn't he? Still, I always look to a name for insight (of some kind) into the character.


Everyman | 2034 comments Lynne wrote: " I can't help thinking that if I am overwhelmed by the description, how much more so would poor Pip have been actually being there and seeing it. "

Nicely said. It must have been overwhelming; the number of new experiences (apparently including the night in Pumblechook's since he appears to be seeing the shop for the first time). As far as we know, he's never slept outside his own home before, at least since he started living with his sister.


message 11: by Natalie (last edited Jan 24, 2017 11:41AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Natalie Tyler (doulton) This chapter further solidifies Pip's inferiority complex, unleashed in large measure by Estella's words. He also starts too (very subtly possibly) buy into the attitude of snobbiness and snottiness. How will Pip live down being treated like a "dog in disgrace?" There's a quotation from chapter 3 I recall which I copied and pasted here. Pip is watching his own particular convict eating. I wonder if in Pip's mind there's a link now more solid between himself and the convict? They are both "dogs" in comparison to the more rarefied people around.

The dog metaphor, added to the criticism of his hands and boots, must be powerful to Pip's consciousness.



"I had often watched a large dog of ours eating his food; and I now noticed a decided similarity between the dog's way of eating, and the man's. The man took strong sharp sudden bites, just like the dog. He swallowed, or rather snapped up, every mouthful, too soon and too fast; and he looked sideways here and there while he ate, as if he thought there was danger in every direction, of somebody's coming to take the pie away. He was altogether too unsettled in his mind over it, to appreciate it comfortably, I thought, or to have anybody to dine with him, without making a chop with his jaws at the visitor. In all of which particulars he was very like the dog."


message 12: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Warning!! I am here to do the illustrations but----I can't see very well and am having trouble seeing the commentary, I'm not even sure what I'm seeing is commentary. And just in case you are now wondering what in the world is wrong with me this time I will let you in on it. I don't know. My headaches, part of every day of my life since I was a teenager are still here but just a bit worse, my seizures have also changed a little bit, they seem to be lasting longer, just a small bit (petit mal that is - the kind that you just stare ahead for a few seconds, I haven't had grand-mal in a long time), anyway, I also can't seem to be able to concentrate which is making it incredibly hard to read a book which is awful. I will see my neurologist on Thursday so maybe we'll figure it out then. My point is, I usually read the commentaries rather slowly and concentrating on all of it because they so often give the plot away, so I make sure I cut those sections out, but since I'm having trouble seeing it I'm not doing a very good job of figuring out if there are any spoilers, so read them at your own risk. :-)

Here we go - oh, I tried zooming, it doesn't seem to be helping:



"'Who is it?' said the lady at the table. 'Pip, Ma'am.'"

Chapter 8

John McLenan

1860

Dickens's Great Expectations,

Harper's Weekly



"Pip Waits on Miss Havisham"

Chapter 8

Marcus Stone

1862

Text Illustrated:

"In an arm-chair, with an elbow resting on the table and her head leaning on that hand, sat the strangest lady I have ever seen, or shall ever see.

She was dressed in rich materials — satins, and lace, and silks — all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white. Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table. Dresses, less splendid than the dress she wore, and half-packed trunks, were scattered about. 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 watch and chain were not put on, and some lace for her bosom lay with those trinkets, and with her handkerchief, and gloves, and some flowers, and a prayer-book, all confusedly heaped about the looking glass. . . . I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone."


Commentary:

"In "Pip Waits on Miss Havisham," in contradiction to the letter-press, Stone depicts her as youthful and attractive. Commanding in presence, she is lit by candelabra, enthroned as it were before her humble supplicant, the blacksmith's boy. Cap in hand, Pip slightly bends at the knees, while the large-eyed, imperious woman with the elaborately arranged blonde hair and bare-shouldered, voluminous wedding dress (apparently no worse for a number of years of wear), her mirror just disappearing off the right-hand margin. Contrast this glowing image from Pip's memory with the despondent, introverted, somewhat elderly and angular bride in front of her mirror given us by McLenan, who has responded more accurately (if less delightfully) to the letter-press.

As we turn page 48 in the 1861 Philadelphia volume we encounter the vignetted illustration "'Who is it?' said the lady at the table. 'Pip, ma'am.'--Page 49" before we actually find the same moment in the letter-press. Whereas Stone had filled the frame with the enchanting fairy godmother, McLenan sets his crone in the midst of her furnishings and belongings. As in the text, open trunks (left and right) covered with clothing frame the scene, and an inward-gazing Miss Havisham in an attitude of despondency, hand supporting her head, sits before an oval mirror which has four candlelabra attached. Faithful to his copy, the illustrator has included such details as the white shoe on the dressing table (Pip indicates that he can see the other white shoe on her foot, which McLenan conceals beneath her skirts). Although neither artist has depicted the faded flowers, the watch and chain are evident just to the right of Miss Havisham's left elbow in Stone's version, important symbols of her rejection of the passage of time. An interesting if minor detail which varies in the two plates is Pip's hat: in Stone's plate, it is a cloth cap such as was worn by the British working class, whereas in McLenan's plate it is a brimmed felt hat, which the American artist supplied from his own experience and period.

Whereas the American artist has depicted the jewels that the text twice mentions, these are not present in Stone's plate, which nevertheless glimmers by the light of four powerful candles in contrast to the faint glare of the four tapers in McLenan's. Without unnecessarily dwelling upon such minutiae, one may simply note that the overall effect of the American periodical illustration is awkward and stilted, although technically accurate, whereas that of the English illustration is dramatic and powerful because Stone has reduced the scene to its essentials, and placed the contrasting figures in close proximity, balancing the difference in their heights by placing three candles above Pip and creating a sense of the numinous that the American plate entirely lacks.

Miss Havisham remains a static, almost blind figure in McLenan's 'It's a great cake. "'A bride-cake. Mine!'--Page 63" and "'Which I meantersay, Pip.'--Page 70," both of which are nevertheless accurate in the details of each scene, the dining room and the boudoir, although Pip is perhaps too well dressed for a mere labouring boy and one wonders how the latter scene is lit, considering that the windows are covered but the candles above Estella are unlit. Interestingly, all three Havisham plate make mirrors central features, though none of them actually reflects anything. These "blind" mirrors may reflect the psychological blindness of Miss Havisham to her true condition; in David Lean's 1946 film, Miss Havisham is, as Regina Barreca notes, "framed next to mirrors in a number of scenes, making visual the way the spinster wishes to multiply her image through Estella". However, McLenan's mirrors return no image, suggesting the sterility of lifelessness of Satis House which accords well with the static, rigid depiction of the figures, rotund Joe furnishing in his darkly clad amplitude a sharp contrast to Miss Havisham's severe whiteness, stark thinness, and pronounced angularity."



message 13: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim

"She gave a contemptuous toss . . . . and left me"

Chapter 8

F. A. Fraser

Text Illustrated:

"She came back, with some bread and meat and a little mug of beer. She put the mug down on the stones of the yard, and gave me the bread and meat without looking at me, as insolently as if I were a dog in disgrace. I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry, sorry,—I cannot hit upon the right name for the smart—God knows what its name was,—that tears started to my eyes. The moment they sprang there, the girl looked at me with a quick delight in having been the cause of them. This gave me power to keep them back and to look at her: so, she gave a contemptuous toss—but with a sense, I thought, of having made too sure that I was so wounded—and left me.

But when she was gone, I looked about me for a place to hide my face in, and got behind one of the gates in the brewery-lane, and leaned my sleeve against the wall there, and leaned my forehead on it and cried. As I cried, I kicked the wall, and took a hard twist at my hair; so bitter were my feelings, and so sharp was the smart without a name, that needed counteraction.

My sister’s bringing up had made me sensitive. In the little world in which children have their existence whosoever brings them up, there is nothing so finely perceived and so finely felt as injustice. It may be only small injustice that the child can be exposed to; but the child is small, and its world is small, and its rocking-horse stands as many hands high, according to scale, as a big-boned Irish hunter. Within myself, I had sustained, from my babyhood, a perpetual conflict with injustice. I had known, from the time when I could speak, that my sister, in her capricious and violent coercion, was unjust to me. I had cherished a profound conviction that her bringing me up by hand gave her no right to bring me up by jerks. Through all my punishments, disgraces, fasts, and vigils, and other penitential performances, I had nursed this assurance; and to my communing so much with it, in a solitary and unprotected way, I in great part refer the fact that I was morally timid and very sensitive.

I got rid of my injured feelings for the time by kicking them into the brewery wall, and twisting them out of my hair, and then I smoothed my face with my sleeve, and came from behind the gate. The bread and meat were acceptable, and the beer was warming and tingling, and I was soon in spirits to look about me."



message 14: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim

"In an armchair, with an elbow resting on the table"

Chapter 8

Charles Green

1877

Gadshill Edition

Text Illustrated:

Whether I should have made out this object so soon if there had been no fine lady sitting at it, I cannot say. In an arm-chair, with an elbow resting on the table and her head leaning on that hand, sat the strangest lady I have ever seen, or shall ever see.

She was dressed in rich materials,—satins, and lace, and silks,—all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white. Some bright jewels sparkled on her neck and on her hands, and some other jewels lay sparkling on the table. Dresses, less splendid than the dress she wore, and half-packed trunks, were scattered about. 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 watch and chain were not put on, and some lace for her bosom lay with those trinkets, and with her handkerchief, and gloves, and some flowers, and a Prayer-Book all confusedly heaped about the looking-glass.

It was not in the first few moments that I saw all these things, though I saw more of them in the first moments than might be supposed. But I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre and was faded and yellow. 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. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone. Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage lying in state. Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress that had been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now, waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me. I should have cried out, if I could.



message 15: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim I find this next one rather creepy:



"Miss Havisham"

Chapter 8

Harry Furniss

1910

Dickens's Great Expectations, Library Edition


message 16: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim

"Well? You can break his heart"

Chapter 8

H. M. Brock

1901-1903

Text Illustrated:

“Call Estella,” she repeated, flashing a look at me. “You can do that. Call Estella. At the door.”

To stand in the dark in a mysterious passage of an unknown house, bawling Estella to a scornful young lady neither visible nor responsive, and feeling it a dreadful liberty so to roar out her name, was almost as bad as playing to order. But she answered at last, and her light came along the dark passage like a star.

Miss Havisham beckoned her to come close, and took up a jewel from the table, and tried its effect upon her fair young bosom and against her pretty brown hair. “Your own, one day, my dear, and you will use it well. Let me see you play cards with this boy.”

“With this boy? Why, he is a common laboring boy!”

I thought I overheard Miss Havisham answer,—only it seemed so unlikely,—“Well? You can break his heart.”

“What do you play, boy?” asked Estella of myself, with the greatest disdain.

“Nothing but beggar my neighbor, miss.”

“Beggar him,” said Miss Havisham to Estella. So we sat down to cards."



Everyman | 2034 comments Natalie wrote: "This chapter further solidifies Pip's inferiority complex, ..."

The saddest thing is that it makes him less happy with who he is. He seemed up until now to be reasonably happy, despite being tickled from time to time. He didn't seem dissatisfied with his life. But Estella destroys all that.


Linda | 712 comments Kim - I'm sorry to hear of your ongoing headaches and inability to concentrate. I hope your doctor's visit this week is helpful. And yet, through all that you still posted illustrations for us. Thank you, it's very much appreciated.

I like the glowering look on Miss Havisham's face and her older stooped way of sitting in the McLean illustration.

While on the other hand, the Stone illustration shows a much younger, healthier, and prettier version of Miss Havisham than I envisioned. I don't think I would have been afraid of that Miss Havisham.

And then there is the Green illustration, which I think is a perfect rendition of how I imagined her, along with the disarray of clothing and other various articles scattered about.

The Brock illustration is OK, except that Estella's head seems out of proportion, it's too small and I noticed it right away and took my attention away from the rest of the illustration.


message 19: by Tristram (last edited Jan 25, 2017 06:47AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Tristram Shandy Peter wrote: "Dickens does love to make us wait, doesn't he?"

He sure does, and it's soooo difficult not to read on ahead of schedule ;-)


Tristram Shandy Kim,

I'm sorry to hear that your headaches are getting worse. I'll think of you and I wish you all the best with regard to your visit at the doctor's. Like Linda, I much appreciate your hunting down the illustrations and posting them here.

My personal favourites among the Miss Havishams presented here are those by McLenan and by Green. Although Green's Miss Havisham has a rather languid attitude, she is also quite emaciated and seems somewhat hard-hearted. I also like the sinister look of Brock's Miss Havisham, how she encourages Estella to turn up her nose at Pip. Harry Furniss's Havisham looks a bit too spidery to me, more like taken out of a story by Lovecraft.

I also like the illustration by Fraser: True, I would have imagined Estella more refined (wearing more costly clothes, for instance), but the look on Pip's face in that illustration is just heart-rending. It's full of pain and longing, and the posture of his body expresses helplessness to me.

All in all, it's interesting to see how differently we all react to these pictures. So thanks a lot for posting them here, Kim!


Peter Kim. Please be good to yourself. I hope, like Linda, you will be able to resolve your headache issue. As always, thank you for these illustrations.

About these illustrations. First. I was truly excited to see such avariety of illustrations that focussed on one character. Miss Havisham. I saw many that I enjoyed. Harry Furniss. His Miss H. appears so regal in her pose and look, and yet she appears as if she is slowly shredding. Weirdly, (?) I wanted to see her feet with one shoe one, one shoe off.

Brock's illustration was great. The look that Brock captured on the faces of Pip, Miss Estella and especially Estella were perfect. In the background the mirror was a great touch. The single candle set between Miss H and Estella on one side and Pip on the other was a very effective division.

Charles Green's illustration was stunning. The look on Miss H's face and the tossed messy look of the room with all the scattered clothes captures the spirit of the chapter.

The Fraser illustration gives us a more block-like character representation, but I was really impressed with the background setting. With the ladder and its rungs going nowhere on the far right, and bars on the window over Pip's right shoulder we have the suggestion of imprisonment. Behind Pip is a wilted flower. On the ground is an upturned barrel, as well as a pail and a tankard. All combine to give a feeling of emptiness. And with Estella's back turned toward Pip it is no wonder Pip looks so forlorn. His heart is already imprisoned, and Estella's heart is empty and withered. A delightful paratext illustration.


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Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) My favorites were Green and Furniss. I imagine Havisham as rather imperious in her disintegration, as if she somehow thinks letting herself and her house go to pieces she is punishing whomever hurt her. From what we know and see of her so far, I can't imagine anyone being drawn to her personality---her money would be the only attraction. But I realize that more explanation will be forthcoming at some point.


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Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) Kim, I am sending you positive energy from half-way across the country.


Mary Lou | 392 comments Everyman wrote: "The saddest thing is that it makes him less happy with who he is. He seemed up until now to be reasonably happy, des..."

I thought so, too, Everyman. That whole "sticks and stones" thing is a lie, especially for children.

One thing that I don't think anyone here has addressed (nor do I remember Dickens addressing it) is what Satis must have smelled like. Does Miss Havisham bathe? It doesn't sound like the dress gets washed. That moldy cake and the critters that must infest it - oh, what an assault to the nose it must have been!

Everyone seemed to be in awe of Miss H., and it seems from Pumblechook that she was a wealthy woman of mystery. Pip being rather sheltered, I wonder if he thought this was typical of the behavior and living conditions of well-to-do women.

Xan - I thought your observation that Miss H. is GE's counterpart to Mrs. Clennam was very astute. Perhaps Miss Wade as well, though less obvious, as she wasn't a shut-in.

Kim - sorry to hear you're having a tough time. If listening would be better for your headaches, you know I heartily recommend audio books, and I'm sure most library systems would have GE in their collections.


Everyman | 2034 comments Linda wrote: "While on the other hand, the Stone illustration shows a much younger, healthier, and prettier version of Miss Havisham than I envisioned. I don't think I would have been afraid of that Miss Havisham. ."

Are we ever actually told how old Miss Havisham is? Seeing her through Pip's eyes she seems ancient, but almost everybody over 35 or so is ancient to a child. If the cake is still existent, even if covered in cobwebs, can it really have been there for more than, say, ten years? Which if she had been a bride of say 22 would make her only in her early 30s.

The Harper's Weekly illustration, showing a fairly young Miss Havisham, is the one in the Gutenberg edition, though I don't know whether it was the original illustration (and if it was, was it approved by Dickens himself?)


Peter Everyman wrote: "Linda wrote: "While on the other hand, the Stone illustration shows a much younger, healthier, and prettier version of Miss Havisham than I envisioned. I don't think I would have been afraid of tha..."

Evedently, the American publication of the early parts of GE were published prior to the English parts publication. Since GE was not illustrated as it was initially being published, I'm guessing Dickens would not have had any say in what was going on in America in terms of the original text illustrations.

The initial publishing history of GE continues to baffle me. Now you have me pondering the connections of the American illustrations. Hmmm...


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) Thanks, Mary Lou. I associate Miss Havisham with Miss Wade not because of the way they live but because of what they teach their charges. "You can break his heart." Are Miss Wade and Miss Havisham misandrists?


Tristram Shandy Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Are Miss Wade and Miss Havisham misandrists?"

I would say that Miss Havisham definitely is but to give reasons for why I think so would mean giving away too much of what is going to happen in the novel. As to Miss Wade, I think that she is more of a misanthrope in general, her ill-will not only confining itself to the male sex but also to women. At the bottom of it all is, I'd say, in Miss Wade's case a thorough feeling of self-hatred, or a lack of self-esteem. How else could she interpret any attempt at showing interest, kindness or sympathy for her as an attempt to belittle and to mock her? Does it seem so unlikely to her for other people to respect her? And I cannot as yet see this kind of self-hatred iin Miss Havisham. There is some pride in her bitterness which I'd put down to her feeling quite full of herself. But that's, of couse, just my impression.


Tristram Shandy Mary Lou wrote: "One thing that I don't think anyone here has addressed (nor do I remember Dickens addressing it) is what Satis must have smelled like. Does Miss Havisham bathe? It doesn't sound like the dress gets washed. That moldy cake and the critters that must infest it - oh, what an assault to the nose it must have been! "

Maybe Miss Havisham used perfume like people at Louis XIV's court? Or maybe, which I think more likely, Dickens did not refer to these particulars because it might have been offensive to Victorian readers? But then most Victorians would not have gone beyond washing their faces and their hands in the morning, and taking a bath was probably not even a weekly procedure.


Tristram Shandy Everyman wrote: "Are we ever actually told how old Miss Havisham is?"

Good point! Maybe Miss Havisham was just in her forties?


Xan Shadowflutter (shadowflutter) Tristram,

It's been a while since I read Little Dorrit, and my mind only recalls Miss Wade talking to men, with Tattycoram being the sole exception. I had taken her for a man hater. We need a reread. :-)


Linda | 712 comments Everyman wrote: "Are we ever actually told how old Miss Havisham is? Seeing her through Pip's eyes she seems ancient, but almost everybody over 35 or so is ancient to a child."

Oh so true! I think back to when my parents were my current age and back then they seemed so "grown up". I'm in my early 40s and I certainly don't feel or look like the "skeletal" descriptions given to Miss Havisham. But of course you bring up a good point that this is from the POV of a child.


Tristram Shandy About children always thinking adults older than the hills, I remember that when I was a child (five or six years old), a neighbour asked me how old I guessed he was. He was a very tall and lean man, nearly bald, with just some areas of grizzled hair, a grey moustache, and he always wore ties and suits, and so for me it was the most natural thing to say, "90 years". I can still see that horrified look on his face.


Tristram Shandy Xan Shadowflutter wrote: "Tristram,

It's been a while since I read Little Dorrit, and my mind only recalls Miss Wade talking to men, with Tattycoram being the sole exception. I had taken her for a man hater. We need a rere..."


Miss Wade also was very slighting to Mrs. Meagles, but I see your point: In her autobiographical sketch it becomes obvious that Miss Wade was very jealous of that childhood friend of hers. Stuff that psychologists' dreams are made of.


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Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) Mary Lou wrote: "Everyman wrote: "The saddest thing is that it makes him less happy with who he is. He seemed up until now to be reasonably happy, des..."

I thought so, too, Everyman. That whole "sticks and stones..."


Great comments on Havisham and her house. Victorians as a whole did not have our access to clean water---so in terms of people-smells, I am sure Pip wouldn't have noticed anything amiss. But you are right about the house and decayed food, etc. Estella was probably used to it, but I would think Pip would notice something was smelly. Now as I read, that will be in the back of my mind. Which brings to mind---when I read, I often give short-shrift to imagined smells and sounds and textures---the other senses.


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Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) Everyman wrote: "Linda wrote: "While on the other hand, the Stone illustration shows a much younger, healthier, and prettier version of Miss Havisham than I envisioned. I don't think I would have been afraid of tha..."

I also have wondered as to Havisham's age. For some reason, I have pictured late 30's or maybe early 40's. Does Dickens ever give us a hint? He is vague as to ages often---over at the Victorians, we have wondered how old Nell is. There is discussion here as to the age of Pip himself. Is it intentional on Dickens's part to be non-specific? Does he think is just doesn't matter?


message 37: by Kim (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kim Tristram wrote: "About children always thinking adults older than the hills, I remember that when I was a child (five or six years old), a neighbour asked me how old I guessed he was. He was a very tall and lean ma..."

When we were kids there was an "old, old" lady who lived next to us. Every minute we were outside playing there she was, sitting at her kitchen window watching us. She never talked to us or yelled at us if we ran in her yard, she just sat and watched us. We knew that she was the oldest person we ever saw. Years and years later she died and when I saw her age in the obituary I knew it was either a misprint or she was about 40 when she lived there.


Mary Lou | 392 comments Tristram wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Are we ever actually told how old Miss Havisham is?"

Good point! Maybe Miss Havisham was just in her forties?"


Having read ahead a bit (shhh! don't tell!), a passage that's coming up in a future chapter had me estimating that Miss Havisham is most likely in her mid-forties. But that raises other questions based on other passages yet to come. Stay tuned....


Everyman | 2034 comments Mary Lou wrote: Having read ahead a bit (shhh! don't tell!),."

Okay, we won't tell that Mary Lou has read ahead. So your secret about reading ahead is safe with us, Mary Lou. Nobody will ever know that Mary Lou has been reading ahead. We'll for sure keep your secret about reading ahead, Mary Lou.

Trust us!


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Kate What a great, but also depressing, chapter.

Pip really has walked into the lion's den. He is just prey for Miss Havisham to play with. She's not the honest bystander who is bored of adult society and just wants to watch the innocence of a child at play.

Instantaneously, you can see how twisted the situation is and it just begs to learn more of Miss Havisham and Estella's pasts.

I do find it ironic that Estella is so pretentious and mean to Pip about his lack of upbringing, however, she says "but you see, she don't" in response to Pumblechook. Any well bred person of any day in England would not say "she don't" but rather "she doesn't". "She don't" is typically spoken by East Enders (in London). I doubt that's accidental, but deliberate, giving a hint about her real identity.


Tristram Shandy Lynne wrote: "but I would think Pip would notice something was smelly. Now as I read, that will be in the back of my mind."

That's funny because I, too, could not help thinking about how sickening the smell must have been when I started reading Chapter 11 in the light of this new discussion here.


Tristram Shandy Mary Lou wrote: "a passage that's coming up in a future chapter had me estimating that Miss Havisham is most likely in her mid-forties."

Incredible! Then Miss Havisham is actually my age, and maybe even a bit younger. Hmm, these discussions on GE start making me feel melancholy. I have always regarded Miss Havisham as quite old and, in every respect, even with regard to age, as quite distinct from myself.


Tristram Shandy Kate wrote: "I do find it ironic that Estella is so pretentious and mean to Pip about his lack of upbringing, however, she says "but you see, she don't" in response to Pumblechook. Any well bred person of any day in England would not say "she don't" but rather "she doesn't". "She don't" is typically spoken by East Enders (in London). I doubt that's accidental, but deliberate, giving a hint about her real identity."

Good point, Kate. I have once or twice noticed characters in Dickens novels use this "don't" in the third person singular, and I am just talking about characters of whom you would not readily expect this. Maybe it used to be possible to say this in a certain context?

I'll give you at least one example of a phenomenon that is now regarded as wrong English but that I have often found in Victorian novels, and so it must have been correct usage once:

Dickens, but also writers like Mrs. Wood or Mary E. Braddon, seem to have had no problem with using the word "proof" as countable, i.e. using it with the indefinite article "a proof" (instead of "some proof"), or sometimes even in the plural, "proofs". Maybe there was something similar afoot with "don't"? Who can help.

As to Estella, I completely agree with you, Kate. For all we know, she is not a blood relation of Miss Havisham's but seems to have been adopted by the "old" (ahem) lady, and maybe it was not long ago when Estella, too, was wearing thick boots?


Mary Lou | 392 comments Everyman wrote: "Okay, we won't tell that Mary Lou has read ahead. So your secret about reading ahead is safe with us, Mary Lou. Nobody will ever know..."

I knew I could count on you, Everyman. A scholar and a gentleman. :-)


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Kate Tristram wrote: "Kate wrote: "I do find it ironic that Estella is so pretentious and mean to Pip about his lack of upbringing, however, she says "but you see, she don't" in response to Pumblechook. Any well bred pe..."

I'm convinced he's alluding to Estella's background. Even working class people from Yorkshire (or any other counties besides those around Middlesex) would not say "don't" in that context. I never did, even though I often dropped my t's and other things which is typical of people from Yorkshire (now it's mixed with an Australian accent).

Dickens is too exact with his writing and characterisation to make that mistake. That's the beauty of English accents - seemingly unimportant brief changes can speak volumes about where people are from. In that particular case, it could indicate a slip up of someone from working class London (or there abouts) imitating a more well bred accent.


Peter Kate & Tristram

Thanks for the discussion and insights on "don't." I have always thought it was Estella mocking and condescending to Pumblechook. Your discussion has re-framed my thoughts.


message 47: by Lynne (last edited Jan 28, 2017 03:21PM) (new) - added it

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) While in Oxford, my first and only time in England, I was amazed that I had trouble understanding some people. Until then, I thought all English from England sounded pretty much like the BBC classics. I also found that everyone was very nice and patient when it became apparent that I didn't have a clue and kindly repeated more slowly!


Everyman | 2034 comments Re the "don't" discussion, I'm not so sure it wasn't more widely used in Dickens's day.

I did a search for don't in GE, and came up with 285 uses. Many of these are normal "I don't think..." or "I don't know," or the like, but some are don't used in place of doesn't.

In Chapter 3, for example, the prisoner says of the young man "He don’t want no wittles.” Now that could be just uneducated talk, but it's another person than Estella using it.

In Chapter 5 the Sergeant says of the handcuffs "the coupling don’t act pretty."

We don't have very many educated people in these early chapters, so maybe we'll find it otherwise when we get further into the book. But the word "doesn't" only shows up twice in the book. For what that's worth.

Many words have changed usage since Dickens's time. For example, ain't was commonly used in polite company (it's used 57 times in GE). "Eat" was a past tense in Austen's day: "they eat their dinner" is common usage instead of "they ate." So it wouldn't surprise me if "don't" were quite normal and acceptable English at the time. But I have no definitive evidence.


Tristram Shandy Re the don't thing:

Here's a passage from Chapter 7 of David Copperfield, where the protagonist gives an account on his life in Mr. Creakle's school:

"Here I sit at the desk again, watching his eye—humbly watching his eye, as he rules a ciphering-book for another victim whose hands have just been flattened by that identical ruler, and who is trying to wipe the sting out with a pocket-handkerchief. I have plenty to do. I don’t watch his eye in idleness, but because I am morbidly attracted to it, in a dread desire to know what he will do next, and whether it will be my turn to suffer, or somebody else’s. A lane of small boys beyond me, with the same interest in his eye, watch it too. I think he knows it, though he pretends he don’t. He makes dreadful mouths as he rules the ciphering-book; and now he throws his eye sideways down our lane, and we all droop over our books and tremble."

Now, David is an educated person, and still more so as the narrator who looks back on his life. There must be something to this 3rd person singular "don't". Maybe it is some kind of subjunctive here in that it is used with "pretend"?

Are there no linguists in the Pickwick Club?


message 50: by Lynne (last edited Jan 29, 2017 12:16PM) (new) - added it

Lynne Pennington (bluemoonladylynne) Grammarian, Tristram, that is what we need. Actually someone who is a student of the history of grammar. I always think of linguists as specialists in different languages----however, English in England in the 1800s' and English in the US now, are indeed different languages.


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