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Great Expectations

Oct 08, 1999 1310 Words
People treasure their houses and most often houses become homes filled with
love. This makes it very difficult to leave their houses in which they have lived all their life. This happens to the elderly a lot when they can no longer take care of themselves and are forced to leave their homes and move to a nursing home. Houses can represent the family who lives in the house. If the house is poorly taken care of then the people poorly take care of themselves. If the house is beautiful with lovely blossoming gardens then they are compassionate loving people. Unless of course they hire someone to take care of the garden. Then they just appear to be loving, compassionate people. Really they are paying someone else to do the hard work to make the family seem loving on the outside but nobody will ever really know how those kind of people are on their dark mysterious inside spirit. Dickens also supported the belief that houses represent people. In Great Expectations, Dickens used the houses of the characters to represent the state of the characters spiritually, physically, and emotionally. Mrs. Havisham has been frozen in time just like her house has been frozen in time for the past twenty years. "Mrs. Havisham's house of darkness, decay, and frozen time …. is a symbol of the spiritual condition of Mrs. Havisham. "(Miller 192) Dickens has been known for using houses as symbols of the characters that lives in the house. "Satis house is an elaborate example of a figurative technique constantly employed by Dickens: the use of houses to symbolize the state of the soul. "(Miller 191) Mrs. Havisham's house is called the "Satis House". It could also be called the Satisfied house. Mrs. Havisham is satisfied with everything she has and everything she doesn't have. Estella knew what she was talking about when she told Pip "It meant, when it was given, that whoever had this house ,could want nothing else. " (Strange 186) She is happy being the victim of the cold-hearted, back-stabbing Compeyson. Her morbid revenge is to freeze time so that she is the innocent victim for the rest of her life because this allows her to be guilt free about creating Estella's heart of ice towards all mankind. "Mrs. Havisham has two motives for her attempt to freeze time. She wants to make certain that her betrayal will be the whole meaning of her life"(Miller 189) The Satis house has no sunlight entering it and is only lighted with candles. This represents her shutting herself off to the world. She does not want any goodness to come near her. The clocks are even stopped at twenty minutes till nine which represents the time she ended her social healthy life and was drawn into a life of seclusion and lonelines. "In turning her back on time and the light of the sun Mrs. Havisham is rejecting life and nature." (Susksmith 210) Mrs. Havisham does not want goodness or at least she does not want people too see her eating. Food is a way to stay healthy and that is why Mrs. Havisham does not want anyone to see her eating food "Miss Havisham's rejection of ordinary public meals are her attempt to shut out daylight." (Hardy 205) People have been known to use food as a substitute for love, especially recovering from a broken heart, so Mrs. Havisham could not dare let someone see her indulging in a form of love. "Meals testify to human need and dependence and distinguish false ceremony from the ceremony of love." (Vanghent 181) The room of her wedding banquet is decaying as herself decays with it. "She has worn away with the meal" (Hardy 205) The spiders feeding off the wedding cake represents how people have been using her and causing her pain by eating at her heart. "She has been gnawed by pain as the food has been gnawed by mice." (Hardy 205) Another example of Mrs. Havisham being is eaten away is when "the little quickened hearts of the mice behind the panels have been quickened by what was Mrs. Havisham carried off crumb by crumb." (Vanghent 181) When Mrs. Havisham dies she will be laid out on the long table so that her relatives can eat her away, symbolically of course. They will be talking about who gets the most money and about how much they love her and miss her even though they are really acting fake. "When she is dead she too will be laid out on that table, where she has allocated the places for her predatory family to sit and feast upon her "( 205 NCLC vol.26) In many ways the Satis House represents Mrs. Havisham's state of being and state of soul. "the neglect and decay of the Satis House is a parallel to the physical decay of its mistress while both forms of disintegration are outward manifestations of her emotional decay" (210 NCLC vol.26) As Mrs. Havisham dies, the Satis house dies with her physical, emotional, and spiritual state of mind. Wemmick and his castle represents his separation of private and business life. Wemmick believes "office is one thing and private life is another." (Dickens 231) At the office Wemmick is stern, strict, and greedy for money. Wemmick's philosophy is "get hold of portable property" (Dickens 22) Wemmick at the office is described as having "glittering eyes-small, keen, and black-and thin wide mottled lips." (195 Great Expectations) Wemmick even tells Pip to keep his life at Walworth separated from his life at little Britain. This shows how important it is to Wemmick to keep business separated from private life. At the castle Wemmick is completely opposite. He begins his transformation from work life to private life when he crosses the draw bridge. Wemmick says "after I have crossed this bridge I hoist it up-so-and cut off communication," (Dickens 229) to the outside world and divulges himself in his own little castle world. "At the castle he is affectionate and gentle." (Hornback 226) Wemmick's chiseled face becomes soft and even has dimples. This shows Wemmicks change of heart from a cold heart at the office to a warm tender heart at his castle. "Wemmick's mouth is not a post-office when he is at home in his castle but only when he is at work in Jagger's London office, where a mechanical appearance of smiling is required of him." (Vanghent 181) Wemmick's castle has gothic architecture and lustrous gardens, which he tends to. Him living with aging and taking care of him is such a sharp contrast to the people he throws out of Mr. Jagger's office. At the office Wemmick would never help his friends. "To Wemmick , serving a friend is a waste "portable property", one might as well pitch his money into the Thames." (Hornback 226) At his castle though, Wemmick wants to help Pip with Herbert. Wemmick's castle being secluded in the forest away from society, represents how Wemmick separates his business life from public life. Many houses represent the family that lives in the house. In Dicken's case he took it one step further. Not only does the house represent the physical and emotional state of the character but also the state of their soul. Mrs. Havisham and her Satis house are both decaying and rotting away with time while Wemmick and his Castle represent his separation of business life from private life. People's houses now have a deeper role than just becoming houses of love filled with children. They also have a greater meaning. Someone's house can even tell their state of soul. When looking at houses now people can also look at their souls.

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