ENGL 489: Dickens Seminar

Dr. John Pennington

Fall 2018, Senior Year (last semester)


  • Friday Insights
  • A Close Reading of Oliver Twist
  • A Critical Essay on David Copperfield
  • Seminar Paper
  • 2 Take-Home Essay Exams

Description:  For my last paper, we were instructed to write a critical paper on either Bleak House, Hard Times, Great Expectations, or A Christmas Carol  that was at least 15 page long.  I decided on Great Expectations because I found Miss Havisham and Estella fascinating.  

The Failed Femme Fatale in Dickens’ Great Expectations

Women have been written in various ways throughout the Victorian era as strong or subordinate; the Angel versus the demonic sister or fallen woman.  Charles Dickens went further and created marvelous characters that spanned from humorous through the Jellyby’s in Bleak House, meek in Mrs. Copperfield from David Copperfield , and horror inducing like Miss Havisham in Great Expectations.  These characters ranged from the normal woman caricature to the exaggeration of complex women.  Miss Havisham is one example of a complex women who tries to exist whilst broken down by men in her society.  She lives in a Gothic environment and appears morecorpse than living being.  Though her family owned fortune and a thriving business in society would suggest she would live prosperously in society, she descends to emotional ruin after being spurned on her wedding day.  She falls into a withering limbo state centered around her decaying bridal room and does not appear to thrive in life thereafter.  The clock stops, her wedding gown becomes the only article of clothing she wears, and the bridal cake crumbles under dust and the attacks of mice. Despite her obvious emotional trauma, she somehow attains Estella (through a rather sad background) and raises her to become a better example of herself with the intent of breaking hearts—a femme fatale.  

A femme fatale usually is defined as “an attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately cause distress to a man who becomes involved with her,” according to the Oxford Dictionary.  In older stories with femme fatales and certain sensation novels, they typically were murderesses as well.  But, the femme fatale has evolved in literature to a figure that is more than that with an underlying purpose—in some instances a social critique.  In her critical study The Femme Fatale in Victorian Literature: The Danger and The Sexual Threat, Jennifer Hedgecock studies the differences in femme fatales in the Victorian age versus literature on Cleopatra and similar figures. Hedgecock notes:

While nineteenth-century society generalizes and polarizes women as either virtuous or fallen, the femme fatale subverts these dichotomous categorizations.  She imitates the domestic woman convincingly, but in fact she is neither a domestic nor a fallen woman.  Despite her sexual transgression, she will not tolerate society’s degradation of her…. (Hedgecock 11)

Women were expected to be chaste, domestic, and subordinate to men.  According to Hedgecock, Victorian femme fatales “defiantly refuse to be helpless or to conform to such oppressive restrictions forced on them” (Hedgecock 62).  Instead, they behave as a dominant being versus a subordinate, meek creature with little to no voice.  They are strong and scoff at the expectations of men and society.  Miss Havisham portrays this best.  When she wants to see people, like Camille and the Pockets, they come when called.  Any other whims she has are met as people grovel to satisfy her.  Though people read her as a monster, she in reality fights back against the patriarchy and the abuse of men while dealing with her own emotional trauma by trying to inflict the distress that they caused her, even if she ultimately fails.

Miss Havisham embodies the twisted angelin the house (though here she is more like a corpse in the attic) and a flawed mother.  Women in the Victorian age were expected to be either a domesticated, civil lady who allowed patriarchy to rule the world while the women existed on raised pedestals or were evil creatures that meant nothing to society but trouble. Victorian literature includes many female characters who act as the angel and the demon, especially in Dickens’ works.  In Great Expectations, the angel would be Biddy who causes no trouble, takes care of Joe and Mrs. Joe, and appears happy and fruitful as a governess and later Joe’s wife.  The demon would be Estella who defies the domestic expectations and Miss Havisham’s search for revenge on the male sex.  While reflecting on Dickens’ writings, Michael Slater writes:

While the domestic ideal and a conception of woman as naturally domestic…is central and basic to Dickens’ art, actual presentations or dramatizations of the ideal account for very few pages in his books.  He is writing novels…and needs dynamic subject-matter, struggles, stress and tensions to be worked out and resolved during the course of the story.  What he mainly gives us, therefore, are domestic situations where the ideal is somehow perverted or betrayed or prevented from being realized…with the woman as a focus of pity, and sometimes terror too….(Slater 335)

 Miss Havisham elicits both pity and terror from her unhappy, Gothic setting.  She sits in a room, covered in dust, and appears frozen in time.  By her exterior and her influence, she inflicts fear in those around her because she always receives her way.  Yet, she tries to find fulfillment by being a pseudo mother to Estella, even if she lacks the nurturing, domestic demand of the Victorian age.

Dickens himself had a strained relationship with his own mother, possibly leading to his common portrayals of failed mothers.  His family struggled monetarily, so Dickens was pulled from school for a while to work at a factory.  Though he claimed he understood his mother’s decision, he never fully forgave her for keeping him from school and encouraging him to work:

My father said I should go back no more, and should go to school. I do not write resentfully or angrily, for I know how all these things have worked together to make me what I am; but I never after wards forgot, I never shall forget, I never can forget, that my mother was warm formy being sent back. (Forster 26)

From his statement of “I never shall forget, I never can forget” his unresolved feelings toward his being sent to work are apparent.  He was young and in the midst of schooling, something he took pride in.  To have that taken away from him scarred him. 

Though his words appear bitter, Michael Slater in Dickens and Women states, “We find little direct evidence in his surviving letters or in reminiscences of him by others, of that undying bitterness he felt towards her which emerges so unmistakably in the autobiographical fragment” (Slater 13).  His soured feelings may not directly appear in writings, but in many of the female characters he writes, known aspects of his mother come out.  Examples of his mother appears in the characters of Mrs. Copperfield and Mrs. Nickleby.  Both women are characterized as being gullible, childish, and snobbish, which sources have said Elizabeth Dickens was.  Some further caricatures of Dickens’ mother arise in Mrs. Joe and Mrs. Steerforth, venturing into an exaggeration of what he himself saw in his mother—volatility and quickness to emotion.  The underlying relationship with his mother and other women took a toll in Dickens’ writing.  Some examples of flawed mothers exist in David Copperfield’s Mrs. Steerforth, Mrs. Heep, Hard Times’ Mrs.Gradgrind, and of course, Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham to name just a few.  Mrs. Steerforth over nurtured her son while Mrs. Heep over stressed her son and her class status as being “humble.”  Mrs. Gradgrind allowed her husband to stressfacts over emotion toward their children and was meek in the face of conflict, similar to Mrs. Copperfield.  Miss Havisham, the focus of this essay, nurtured Estella into becoming an essentially flawed person that is bereft of feeling for another, leading her to miss out on life.

Though Estella receives an education on men and how to defeat them with her attitude and high status in an economic-class driven society, she falters because she lacks a heart.  The scene where she yells at Miss Havisham about her lack of feeling elicits Louise from Hard Times and even Mrs. Steerforth from David Copperfield.  Dickens appears to portray complex women in his novels that lack the basic nurturing compassion that the Victorian age demanded.  Neither Estella nor Miss Havisham end happily in the novel.  Because Miss Havisham raises Estella to be a femme fatale to protect her from the betrayal she faced, she leads Estella to an unhappy life that even she comes to regret.

Slater reminds readers that “we should bear in mind that during [Dickens’] lifetime he witnessed the gradual evolution of the typical English woman from the meek submissive model of the1830s to the more self-aware and self-assertive figure of the 1860s…” (Slater 301).  However, the women Dickens constructs with self-aware, self-assertive attributes appear monstrous, horrifically flawed, or plain despicable and annoying.  He was aware of strong women, felt empathy for them, but patriarchy still twists them into something ‘other’ that implies the struggle a woman faces to defy the patriarchy without losing herself.  With the struggle, many falter and can lose themselves to the struggle.  Little Emily from David Copperfield initially is portrayed as strong and runs away with her love, but later falls into ruin after James Steerforth lets her down.  She ends up leaving the country to redeem herself, losing her home and the identity she once had.  Also in David Copperfield, Betsey Trotwood acts similarly to Miss Havisham—she is eccentric in the face of society and desires to take on a little girl.  Unfortunately, the natural order denies her the chance to take on children when David is born a boy.  Betsey Trotwood also has a strained relationship with men, but she overcomes the pain of her past to become a fierce contender in society, unlike Miss Havisham.

From Miss Havisham’s descriptions, Dickens writes her as unnerving but hints that men caused her grotesqueness.  Bitterness takes root when Miss Havisham’s prospects fail, and Estella’s blood relatives let her go.  When entering Satis House, the name of Miss Havisham’s home, Pip notices that dust and decay clings to everything as all the clocks stick to one time, twenty minutes to nine.  Everything has been frozen and set up according to when Miss Havisham should have married.  Once Pip meets her, she quickly and vaguely brushes over what happened to her, merely mentioning she has a broken heart (Dickens 71-72).  Pip’s description showshow broken Miss Havisham is:

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 round 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 wax-work at the fair…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. (Dickens 71)

Here Dickens shows her not as a woman but as a monster, a skeleton or wax figure.  Her humanity is lost and causes difficulty in relating to her.  From this description, she is an other, something else from general people.  If not for her relationship with Estella, there would be no idea of any lasting humanness in her.  Miss Havisham is compared not only to monstrous objects, like the skeleton, but also to herdress and flowers, furthering this idea that she is nothing more than a thing.  From Pip’s connection of her to a wax-figure at the fair, Miss Havisham is turned into an item to look upon and be judged, something that women were typically equated to—as visual commodities.  When studying how wax-work references carries and relates throughout Great Expectations, Laurence Talairach-Vielmas delves into the grim description of Miss Havisham:

Dressed in her bridal gown, with only one shoe on,Miss Havisham is compared to “the ghastly waxwork at the fair” (Dickens 1994:57). The comparison binds the character to a world of make-believe, that of the stage or exhibitions. As in a phantasmagoria, Miss Havisham’s room, artificially lit by wax candles, suggests how deceptive reality can be, as Pip mistakes tatters for rich materials and a corpse-like woman for a rich and beautiful lady… (Talairach-Vielmas 33)

With her bridal gown and reference to her singular shoe, she has been related to as a macabre Cinderella but with an ending lacking the prince.  Dickens frequently references fairy tales and the Bible in his writing.  Reality slips in and out of his stories, making it hard for him to be marked as arealist.  Yet he pulls on real-world attributes and happenings to make his writing more engaging.  Her dress, shoes, and flowers are not only a fairy tale feel, but also a constant reminder of what she lacks—the groom who never showed.  Venturing forward, Talairach-Vielmas further emphasizes Miss Havisham’s dead-like appearance and wonders at the wax description and the background behind it:

In addition, the waxwork betokens Pip’s refusal to acknowledge the reality of Miss Havisham’s corpse-like appearance, her body shrunk to skin and bone. Wax displaces and replaces the gruesome body. Wax models of royal characters had been used since the fifteenth century to display kings and queens without fearing decomposition. Similarly, dressed in bridal attire, Miss Havisham’s wax-like and virginal corpse highlights her attempt at arresting physical decomposition and counteracting time and death. The wax model thus typifies the narrative’s interplay with anxieties related to time and bodily decay, more especially so when Miss Havisham wishes to be laid upon the table when dead, with people coming and looking at her—“the complete realisation of the ghastly waxwork at the fair” (83). (Talairach-Vielmas 33)

With her life suspended in a bleak reminder that she was left at the altar, Miss Havisham appears to continue to decay while supposedly living.  She attempts to find fulfillment through Estella and later on Pip, needing to watch people live because she can no longer do it herself.  If she were to adventure outside or do anything besides sit and look to the past, there is no telling how her body would react.  As she asks Pip, “Are you not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?” (Dickens 71).  The world has continued around her while she receded into the background of her house.

Estella is not the only femme fatale figure, however, as Miss Havisham took revenge on her brother, even if indirectly.  Hilary Schor in her study critiques the brightness in Miss Havisham’s eye: “The only “weird” glow left to Miss Havisham, the fire behind the sunken eyes, is the desire to spin out plots, to punish her relatives, revenge herself on the world, and (indirectly)to torture young Pip…” (Schor 165).  The light that exists in her is not a warm fire but a cold ember waiting to burst into destructive flame again.  When Miss Havisham’s brother, Arthur, is away with Compeyson, her runaway groom, he sees a woman that looks similar to his sister.  He tells Compeyson’s real wife, “Sally, she really is up-stairs alonger me, now, and I can’t get rid of her.  She’s all in white…’wi’ white flowers in her hair and she’s awful mad, and she’s got a shroud hanging over her arm, and she says she’ll put it on me…” (Dickens 321). Because Miss Havisham is a mortal being, however, we know that she is not really present and haunting him.  Instead, his drunk subconscious conjures her up in the lonely bridal gown that still waits for her wedding day.  The guilt overtakes him as her image follows him:

“I don’t know how she’s there…but she’s standing in the corner at the foot of the bed, awful mad. And over where her heart’s broke—you broke it!—there’s drops of blood…She’s a shaking the shroud at me!  Don’t you see her?  Look at her eyes!  Ain’t it awful to see her so mad!…She’ll put it on me, and then I’m done for!” (Dickens 322)

His guilt projects her as an apparition that she later embodies.  Further on in this scene, he dies either from the drink, the guilt, or the terror of her heart broken ghost coming for him.  Though Miss Havisham may not have directly plotted her brother’s death, her twisted image from the emotional trauma killed him, fulfilling some small revenge on him.  For her other relatives that she knows are digging for her fortune, she strings them along and reminds them they are her puppets.  Even though she may not have the beauty of the typical femme fatale, she uses her fortune to seduce them to her wants as she attempts to punish them for their hand in her ordeal.

Because she is transfixed on her past, Miss Havisham confesses offhandedly that she raised Estella with the intent of breaking hearts to subvert patriarchy as a mini femme fatale in retribution for her own brittle heart. She becomes a sadist, enjoying the infliction of the pain of others, as she says, “Who am I, for God’s sake, that I should be kind” (Dickens 331).  The truth is she has no reason, just like any other person.  Some people act kind because of their nature while others are bitter from birth.  Others, like Miss Havisham, are turned rueful by circumstances.  So, her sadistic nature comes out.  Her house’s name reveals her as such: Satis sounds very similar to Sadist.  Satis is pronounced “sat-is”, while sadist is pronounced “say-dist”.  Though not the same, the similar t and d sounds connect with one another.  According to Latin dictionary’s Kevin Mahoney, satis is the Latin root for “enough”. People see this in derivatives of satisfaction; however, Miss Havisham does not have enough of anything to satisfy her.  Her actions grow sadistic in order to find happiness that she otherwise lacks.  She admits, “I sometimes have sick fancies…and I have a sick fancy to see some play”(Dickens 72).  Because of this fancy, she forces Pip to play with Estella and delights in Estella’s mistreatment of Pip.  Every visit, Miss Havisham asks Pip what he thinks of Estella and takes delight from it.  When Estella attempts to reject him, Miss Havisham butts in, “Well?  You can break his heart” (Dickens 73).  Not only is Miss Havisham a sadist, but she trains Estella to be as well.

The original intent for Miss Havisham taking in Estella, however, was not to turn her bitter but to protect her from similar experiences with men. By teaching her young charge to be wary of feelings, she protects her from being hurt: “I wanted a little girl to rear and love and save from my fate” (Dickens 366).  As Estella grew older, however, she noticed how men would seek her for her beauty and saw a reflection of herself.  Young Miss Havisham was radiant, ever spoiled by her father, and seemed to have great prospects, which ended up in ruin after her brother connived a scheme to ruin her for money by ruining her heart.  She was left at the altar because of a coup d’état for money by people she trusted—her brother Arthur and her groom in the form of Compeyson.  To prevent Estella from falling under the influence of men, she ensures that Estella does not listen to her emotions and remains indifferent to stay whole, unlike the broken Miss Havisham:

“Believe this: when she first came to me, I meant to save her from misery like my own.  At first I meant no more…But as she grew and promised to be very beautiful, I gradually did worse, and with my praises, and with my jewels, and with my teachings, and with this figure of myself always before her a warning to back and point my lessons, I stole her heart away and put ice in its place.”(Dickens 366)

The ice stuck in Estella’s heart as she wooed and broke the hearts of a few men, including Pip, though he was more of an unintentional casualty.  She warned him to resist her attractiveness, but he cannot help himself.  Pip notes “She had admirers without end.  No doubt my jealousy made an admirer of everyone who went near her, but there were more than enough without that” (Dickens 281).  She became a strong woman and stayed true to what she was taught: “I have never been unfaithful to you or your schooling.  I have never shown any weakness that I can charge myself with” (Dickens 285).  Men fell to her, and she kept her disinterest. 

Even though Miss Havisham raises Estella to suppress feelings, Estella comes to resent her own lacking of emotion and rejects resisting the influence of men.  In the scene where Miss Havisham and Estella bicker, Miss Havisham is shocked at how prideful Estella acts toward her.  Estella retorts, “I am what you have made me.  Take all the praise, take all the blame; take all the success; in short, take me” (Dickens 284).  Everything Estella has she owes to the nurturing, no matter how flawed, of her adoptive mother. If Miss Havisham does not like how she behaves, part of it comes from her own suggestions.  She spoiled her as a child, dressing her up with pretty jewels and encouraged her to act beastly toward boys.  Back to when Pip and Estella were children, Miss Havisham did not attempt to correct the behavior that Pip labeled as “insulting” and “proud” (Dickens 74).  Because of her inflating Estella’s ego, she cannot be surprised when she acts in this way. When people ask her to feel something other than pride, Estella cannot because she knows nothing else:

“It seems…that there are sentiments, fancies—I don’t know how to call them—which I am not able to comprehend.  When you say you love me, I know what you mean, as a form of words; but nothing more. You address nothing in my breast, you touch nothing there.  I don’t care for what you say at all.  I have tried to warn you of this…It is in my nature…It is in the nature formed within me.  I make a great difference between you and all other people when I say so much.  I can do no more.” (Dickens 333)

In this passage, she separates herself as an other, not saying “we” but saying “you and all other people”.  Though she may not look desecrated like Miss Havisham, she still acts on the outskirts of societal expectations and cannot behave like the general public.  She rejects some prospects in the form of Pip and even Miss Havisham’s expectations and picks a spouse that does not befither or the strength that she was installed with since birth.  Drummle embodies all the patriarchal tendencies that Miss Havisham and Pip found despicable—proud, controlling, and abusive. 

Yet, Estella does not try to destroy him by breaking his heart like she was brought up to do; instead, she goes along with him.  In “Intertextual Estella: “Great Expectations,” Gender, and Literary Tradition,” Sarah Gates contemplates: “One possibility for making such a struggle visible is to put it into action.  And, indeed, marrying Drummle seems to Estella a way of acting on the promptings of such a conscience, in that she sees herself as “disengaging” from a life of which she has grown weary…” (Gates 395).  Trying to fight against the standards of society is exhausting for anyone. By this constant game of breaking hearts, she grew bored and sought fulfillment in other people that she saw was absent from her life.  She claims all this goes back to her lacking feeling.  Pip tries to argue that this is not natural, but she emphasizes that is her nature because that is how she was brought up.  No matter the background, how people are raised greatly influences their life.  As Estella reflects on her upbringing, she critiques Miss Havisham for trying to prevent her from being hurt:

 “I begin to think…that I almost understand how this comes about.  If you had brought up your adopted daughter wholly in the dark confinement of these rooms, and had never let her know that there was such thing as daylight by which she has never once seen your face—if you had done that and then for a purpose had wanted her to understand the daylight and know all about it you would have been disappointed and angry?…if you had taught her, from the dawn of her intelligence with your utmost energy and might, that there was such a thing as daylight, but that it was made to be her enemy and destroyer and she must always turn against it for it had blighted you and would else blight her;—if you had done this and then, for a purpose, had wanted her to take naturally to the daylight and she could not do it, you would have been disappointed and angry?…So I must be taken as I have been made.  The success is not mine, the failure is not mine, but the two together make me.” (Dickens 285-286) 

The daylight equates to men, as men were Miss Havisham’s “blight,” but Estella cannot be ignorant of their existence.  Despite Miss Havisham’s best intentions and efforts, Estella had to learn.  When she went away to boarding school, the world could not be ignored, and society could not ignore her beauty.  The men fell, and she noticed what she lacked and felt its absence.  In the part where she says, “had wanted her to take naturally to the daylight”, she references Miss Havisham and Pip’s desire for her to find a man who is appropriate for her that cares and is kind for her (Dickens 286). Pip wants her for himself, but she would rather choose Drummle because she sees no reason not to.  He has status, and she may even pick him because she knows it irritates Pip, who she has always enjoyed torturing.

Because Estella lacks the ability to connect affectionately to men, she ends up in an unhappy and abusive marriage,another woman hurt by toxic masculinity.  Miss Havisham’s ploy to make a woman to revenge her and serve as a better example of herself fails.  By her failure, it shows that there is no avoiding destructive masculinity.  Yet, there may be more behind this then the unbreakable cycle of heart ache:

Women and the violence directed against them seem behind much of the plotting, overt and covert, in the novel; but female plotshave unexpected kicks and quirks in them, and they tend here, as elsewhere in Dickens, to turn against the men who think they read women so well. (Schor 164)

Drummle abuses Estella, but he also abused everything around him.  Pip hated him, which was why he argued against Estella marrying him.  Because of his abusive nature, Drummle ends up killing himself by abusing the wrong horse, freeing Estella in a small way.  After this point of maturing, she feels more emotions but still revolves around melancholy and apathy.  At the end where she comes across Pip, no sweet, romantic meeting occurs, but a social nod to each other and their history before saying good-bye, possibly for good.  The ending emotes regret, but it cannot seem to break through it.  As Pip says, “Better…to have left her a natural heart, even to be bruised or broken” (Dickens 366).  He has a natural heart that repeatedly gets trodden on, yet still he regrets not being with her and continues to fall back to reminiscing of what could have been.

Not only does Estella resent how she was raised, but Miss Havisham grows to regret how she has ruined her in the process of trying to protect her. With Pip at her side, she sees herself mirrored in his pain over Estella being married to someone else: “Until you spoke to her the other day, and until I saw in you a looking-glass that showed me what I once felt myself, I did not know what I had done.  What have I done! What have I done!” (Dickens 365).  By closing off her heart, she lost out on the best of life and its experiences. Estella missed out on marrying someone who cared about her and lacks the ability to connect with others.  Instead, she will be stuck as this perpetual empty woman who never experienced enough in her life.  She may look beautiful, but she will be a husk on the inside, like the withered outer-shell of Miss Havisham. Pip realizes this as he reflects while observing the downcast Miss Havisham as she begins to regret her nurturing of Estella:

That she had done a grievous thing in taking an impressionable child to mould into the form that her wild resentment, spurned affection, and wounded pride, found vengeance in, I knew full well.  But that, in shutting out the light of day, she had shut out infinitely more; that, in seclusion, she had secluded herself from a thousand natural and healing influences; that her mind, brooding solitary, had grown diseased, as all minds do and must and will that reverse the appointed order of their Maker; I knew equally well.  And could I look upon her without compassion, seeking her punishment in the ruin she was, in her profound unfitness for this earth on which she was placed, in the vanity of sorrow which had become a master mania, like the vanity of penitence, the vanity of remorse, the vanity of unworthiness, and other monstrous vanities that have been curses in this world? (Dickens 365)

Pip sees the woman behind the supposed monster.  He knows that how she influenced Estella throughout her upbringing was bad, but he also sees the hurt and trauma that Miss Havisham never made it past.  She attempts to be strong and to endow that strength to her adopted charge, but instead leads to her own spontaneous combustion:

“In the moment I was with drawing my head to go quietly away, I saw a great flaming light spring up.  In the same moment, I saw her running at me, shrieking, with a whirl of fire blazing all about her, and soaring at least as many feet above her head as she was high.” (Dickens 368)

Pip becomes burned as he attempts to save her, scarred by her destruction symbolizing one last attempt on affecting the patriarchy.  Even though she attempted to resist and twist the overbearing masculinity of the men in her life, she brings her own unhappy ending.  She ends up consumed in flames despite the ice she claimed to have in her chest. 

Though Miss Havisham attempts to fight the poisonous masculinity that ruined her life, she ultimately fails and leads to her own destruction and creates a bleak life for her adopted daughter.  Men close to her heart ended up tarnishing Miss Havisham, leading her to a bitterness that took root in her physical and emotional health.  Because of this, she adopts a daughter with the intent of protecting her from similar circumstances only to bring her another pain from men.  Estella does woo and conquer many hearts, more than likely destroying a few in her path, but she ends up in an unhealthy relationship that leads to her own suffering. Miss Havisham causes another heart to break, Pip’s, causing her to realize the consequence of her pursuit for retribution and leads to her own self-combustion.  Society distorts both Estella and Miss Havisham through their descriptions and view of their actions, but they were mere victims of circumstance. 

Works Cited

Dickens, Charles. Great Expectations. Edited by Janice Carlisle, Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, 1996.

 “Femme Fatale | Definition of Femme Fatale in English by Oxford Dictionaries.” Oxford Dictionaries | English, Oxford Dictionaries, en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/femme_fatale.

Forster, John. The Life of Charles Dickens. Chapman & Hall,1893. Google E-book

Gates, Sarah. “Intertextual Estella: ‘Great Expectations,'” Gender, and Literary Tradition.” Modern Language Association, vol. 124, no. 2, Mar. 2009, pp. 390–405.

Hedgecock, Jennifer. The Femme Fatale in Victorian Literature: the Danger and the Sexual Threat. Cambria Press,2008.

Mahoney, Kevin D. “Latin Search Results for: Satis.” Latin Definitions for: Qual (Latin  Search) – Latin Dictionary and Grammar Resources – Latdict, www.latin-dictionary.net/search/latin/satis.

Schor, Hilary Margo. Dickens and the Daughter of the House. Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Slater, Michael. Dickens and Women. J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1983.

Talairach-Vielmas, Laurence. “Wax, Death, and Crime in Great Expectations.” The European English Messenger, vol. 22, no. 1, 2013, pp. 32–37. EbscoSource.