Havisham Essay

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2011 - Choose a poem in which either nature or time is presented as a destructive force. Discuss how effectively the poet presents nature or time in this way.

Carol Ann Duffy's 'Havisham' is a monologue spoken by Charles Dickens's character Miss Havisham from 'Great Expectations'. Jilted by her scheming fiancé, Havisham continues to wear her wedding dress and sits amid the remains of her wedding breakfast for the rest of her life, whilst she plots revenge on all men. She hates he spinster state, which suggests Duffy's choice of name for the poem, and suggests at the themes of loss, breakdown, jealousy and revenge. This essay will explore how time is presented as a destructive force and how effectively Duffy make use of it through various poetic techniques.

Through Duffy's use of imagery, the destructive force of time begins to be revelled to the reader. Havisham has become so filled with hatred for men, after what her fiancé did to her she wants to take revenge: 'Prayed for it

so hard I've dark green pebbles for eyes,
ropes on the back of my hands I could strangle with.'
She tells us that she has prayed so hard for it (with her eyes closed and her hands together) that her eyes have shrunk and hardened and her hands have sinews strong enough to strangle with, which fits her murderous revenge. Readers who know Dickens' novel might think about Miss Havisham's ward Estelle at this point - whose natural mother, Molly, has strangled a rival and has unusually strong hands. This brings forward the image of hardness and cruelty, as Havisham has become trapped with obsession: thinking, praying and waiting for her fiancé. The 'green' has connotations of her envy and jealousy and reflects her thoughts and treatment of married women. Her eyes being like 'pebbles' has connotations of a resistance and stone, and also suggests that Havisham's eyes are stone cold and heart has turned to a hard stone, that no longer feels any emotion. This shows how time has not only...
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