Great Expectations

What does Pip conclude about why Miss Havisham and the room look as they do?

In Chapter Eight!

Asked by
Last updated by Aslan
Answers 1
Add Yours

After coming into the dressing-room of Miss Havisham, Pip is halted by the appearance of "the strangest lady [he has] ever seen or shall ever see." He notices that "everything within [his] view which ought to be white had lost its luster, and was faded and yellow." And, as he looks around him, Pip notices that Miss Havisham's watch has stopped at twenty minutes to nine; in fact a clock in the room was also stopped at this same time.

It is then that Pip comprehends that everything has stopped at this time. Miss Havisham has one shoe off and there is a jewel resting upon her dressing-table. She remains in a wedding dress that has yellowed now. Pip remarks,

Without this arrest of everything, this standing still of all the pale decayed objects, not even the withered bridal dress on the collapsed form could have looked so like graveclothes, or the long veil so like a shroud.

It is this absolute arrest of time that causes Pip to conclude that Miss Havisham appears dead, and the room seems lifeless, as well. He observes Miss Havisham as she sits "corpse-like" and like "earthy paper. Later, in recalling her Pip likens her in his memory to the discoveries of ancient bodies that when light hits them, crumble to dust. Indeed, Pip senses the "melancholy" of this setting.

It is not until later that Pip realizes why Miss Havisham has stopped time at the point at which her heart has been broken, the point at which she stopped living as a passionate, alive young woman.