The renowned poet, Richard Lovelace, once wrote that "stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage." Most people imagine a prison as a physical building or a jailhouse; however, it can also be a state of mind. A large number of people are imprisoned physically, mentally, and emotionally. Charles Dickens conveys this idea through many characters in his famous novel, Great Expectations; the most prominent being Miss Havisham, a bitter old woman whose life came to a standstill after she was abandoned by her lover on her wedding day. The novel is about a young, low-class boy named Pip, who becomes a gentleman, and through his journey realizes that no matter the course of events in his life, nothing could alter who he
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Upon first meeting Miss Havisham, she confirms that - like a prisoner - she has not left her home in a very long time; claiming she " ‘has never seen the sun since [Pip] was born’ " (Dickens 53) and intends for it to stay that way. Using Estella as her connection to the outside world, Miss Havisham lives a life of seclusion and loneliness in her home and her prison: Satis House. The Satis House acts as a physical prison but, coupled with the static appearance of Miss Havisham, also demonstrates her inability to let go of the past. She also demonstrates an unwillingness to move on and or escape from her mental prison. After her wedding day, she suspends herself and her house at "twenty minutes to nine"
(Dickens 166): the exact time at which she received the rejection note from her lover. Throughout the entire novel, Miss Havisham appears in a "faded and yellow" (Dickens 52) wedding dress that she first wore years ago, and the house is left in the same state as it was on her wedding day. In addition, when Miss Havisham places a jewel on Estella during their card game, Pip notices that "...Miss Havisham put down the jewel exactly on the spot from which she had taken it up" (Dickens 54) showing that Miss Havisham is careful not to change the appearance of her home. In conclusion, the fixed appearance of both Miss Havisham and the Satis House serves as a reminder for Miss Havisham to never forget the betrayal and heartbreak she suffered during her wedding day, trapping