My Favourite Literary Mentalists – 1) Miss Havisham ‘Great Expectations’ Charles Dickens


Jilted on her wedding day by the fraudulent and morally bankrupt Compeyson, the haunted and deeply humiliated Miss Havisham takes refuge for the rest of her days in the gothic and crumbling ruins of Satis House, never to remove her bridal gown again and wearing only one shoe, exactly as she had been at the moment she received Compeyson’s letter cancelling the wedding. Heartbroken and wasting away, surrounded by the remains of her wedding feast and decorations, she pines for her lost love incessantly and obsessively. Lonely and grief-stricken, Miss Havisham adopts a young girl, Estella, who promises to be a great beauty. Miss Havisham brings Estella up to be cold and impassive in order to break the hearts of men in vicarious revenge for her suffering. Enter Pip, and his fate is tragically sealed on the first day he sets eyes on Estella. Arguably one of Dickens’ most famous gothic creations, it is sometimes hard to draw the line between caricature, ¬†eccentricity and genuine madness.

This is an interesting read on Miss Havisham, Dickens and Victorian Psychiatry.