In this essay, I will show how Miss Havisham’s influence is used in her adopted daughter’s life. Since Miss Havisham was betrayed on her wedding day, she has felt contempt for men. By adopting a young girl called Estella, she has tried to install uneasy confidence in Estella about men and how to take revenge on them. Similarly, Estella grows up to be cold and cruel. However, Estella shows indifference to Miss Havisham’s destroying ways now that she is older.
Miss Havisham influences Pip, the protagonist, and narrator of Great Expectations, with a note inviting him to visit her house. Pip sets off to Miss Havisham’s house. It seems Miss Havisham’s scheming is to encourage Estella to entrap Pip and duly urge Pip to love her. Pip enters Miss Havisham’s house to dark passages where only candles light the way. Estella leads him by candlelight to the room in which Miss Havisham sits. Pip finally sees Miss Havisham in an armchair, with an elbow resting on the table and her head leaning on her hand. He comments that she is the ‘strangest lady I have ever seen’. This is where the reader gets the image of a reclusive lady living in the past. There has been no change to the decaying house thus being referred to as dark. Miss Havisham’s weathered bridal dress is still on show from the day she was jilted at the altar. The deterioration which has been there for Estella to see and live amongst characterises Miss Havisham’s relationship not only with Estella but also with humanity, especially men.
The reader imagines Estella being brought up in an environment where Miss Havisham has shut herself away from the world leading to the obvious effect not only on the bitter recluse Miss Havisham but also the effect on the young impressionable Estella. Miss Havisham has not taught Estella what love is or how she should love another person. In what may have been Miss Havisham’s character before, we see Miss Havisham drawing her arm through Estella’s. However, Estella’s beautiful appearance is masked by her not being able to show love. Miss Havisham influences Pip by urging him to fall in love with Estella. Miss Havisham says, “Love her, love her, love her!” Miss Havisham revels in her revenge and urges him to love Estella no matter how she treats him.
Miss Havisham treats Estela like she did when she was younger. Now that Estela has been away, Estella seems to have realised Miss Havisham’s idealism. However, as a young child, the reader thinks that Miss Havisham’s forthright views were learned and not rebutted by Estella. Estella has respect for Miss Havisham, she adopted her and brought her up, but Estella appears to have come out of her shell and shows her actual feelings to Miss Havisham. Miss Havisham cruelly treated Estella when she was a child. She had an upbringing of psychological abuse where she has learned to attract men but also to despise them.
Miss Havisham tries to profess to Estella her objections to her apparent negative feelings, but Miss Havisham has started a petty argument when Estella’s feelings come out. This is where the influence on Estella comes out. Miss Havisham reproaches Estella for being cruel and cold, “You cold, cold heart!”. Estella asks her, ‘do you reproach me for being cold?’ How can Miss Havisham be angry with Estella when she is the one who raised Estella to be like she is?
Miss Havisham’s influence was to make Estella listen to her only and now Estella has inevitably left home Miss Havisham seems to resent her opposing feelings, which Miss Havisham thinks was not the way she brought her up. We know that Estella’s behaviour is not entirely of her own making.