Why I’m Obsessed with GE

havershim at dressing table

Well, there’s Mrs. Havershim, for one thing. That’s the most obvious one, though the one I only just now realized, after months of listening to the audiobook in bed at night. So obvious, so in denial. (There’s some DickensSpeak for you).

Mrs. Havershim, with her one wedding shoe still sitting at her dressing table, with her wedding cake petrified and covered in spider webs.

“But I saw that everything within my view which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers, and had no brightness left but the brightness of her sunken eyes. I saw that the dress had been put upon the rounded figure of a young woman, and that the figure upon which it now hung loose had shrunk to skin and bone. Once, I had been taken to see some ghastly waxwork at the Fair, representing I know not what impossible personage lying in state. Once, I had been taken to one of our old marsh churches to see a skeleton in the ashes of a rich dress that had been dug out of a vault under the church pavement. Now, waxwork and skeleton seemed to have dark eyes that moved and looked at me.” (Dickens)

This is me, sitting here two years after my ex moved out, still grieving at the provocation of any minute memory floating through my head.

shoe

“It was then I began to understand that everything in the room had stopped, like the watch and the clock, a long time ago. I noticed that Miss Havisham put down the jewel exactly on the spot from which she had taken it up. As Estella dealt the cards, I glanced at the dressing-table again, and saw that the shoe upon it, once white, now yellow, had never been worn. I glanced down at the foot from which the shoe was absent, and saw that the silk stocking on it, once white, now yellow, had been trodden ragged. 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 grave-clothes, or the long veil so like a shroud.”

This morning I was going to do something (dusting the dog, actually) with talcum powder. This provoked intrusive memories of having fun with my son doing my hair (with talcum powder – and there is a logical explanation for that, by the way!), and then provoked the equally unwanted hindsight that while my ex laughed at that at the time …   I now know it must have annoyed his hidden control freak nature to no end. He wasn’t into kids having fun or making messes, and I now  marvel at his ability to pretend otherwise while living with me and mine.

“Coming of Age”? Maybe. I didn’t think so at first, because I’ve already “come of age” a few times in my life travels (travails? travels? who knows). But then I realized that maybe we “come of age” many times in our lives, not just one. We are always learning and hitting new levels of maturity in our growth processes. So it’s possible I am also currently “coming of age” yet again. Entering a new realm of maturity after having been through the intensive growth process of the last two years.

Which means that really, anyone would enjoy this story, readers or not. It is literally a timeless classic of enduring themes. The themes are universal and able to appeal to any age, to any generation, to any time period. But that’s the brilliance of Dickens and all his stories. For someone that left school at the age of 12 to enter the workforce, and never returned to it, that’s some amazing work to have accomplished.

At any rate, I have wondered at times why I feel such a compulsion to listen to this story over and over and over again. And I supposed I’ve found two of the reasons. Looking at Miss Havershim and thinking “why doesn’t she just live the life she has right now?” helps me in my own journey to healing.

“You can’t hold onto the past and the future at the same time. It will tear you apart! Learn what needs to be learned, but forget the past and strain forward for what lies ahead.”Pastor Arlie Whitlow

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Interesting blogs on similar topic:

Lessons from Miss Havisham and Great Expectations by Pastor Arlie Whitlow

Describing a Memorable Character: Miss Havisham, by Andrea Lundgren

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Describing a Memorable Character: Miss Havisham

Andrea Lundgren

Well, is later than I planned, but it is still the 30th of October, (PST), so I’m going to finish my posts for “Characters in Costume.” And next blogfest, I won’t arrange a birthday party for one of the days of the event. 🙂

We looked at the minimalist and medium approaches to describing s character, and today I wanted to clever the detailed option, where you give enough info for a casti director to either love you or hate you forever. We find just such an example in “Great Expectations,” where Dickens describes Miss Havisham.

Pip has just been shown into a room where he spies a lady’s changing table…and at it, a most unique lady.

file5271263166456 by gwaddell

“In an arm-chair, with an elbow resting on the table and her head leaning on that hand, sat the strangest lady I have ever seen, or shall ever see.

“She was dressed in…

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Scenes in the Tarot: the Nine of Swords

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Fiery K. Tarot

(italics mine)

“Guilty Conscience”- is a key phrase I never really connected with the Nine of Swords until seeing the above graphic after listening to the various parts in Great Expectations where the protagonist Pip is tormented by anxiety after committing some heinous (to him) deed that he was sure he was going to be punished for. The first glimpse we get of the Nine of Swords in Pip’s experience is after he has agreed to steal food and a file for an escaped convict:

from Chapter Two:

“My thoughts strayed from that question as I looked disconsolately at the fire. For, the fugitive out on the marshes with the ironed leg, the mysterious young man, the file, the food, and the dreadful pledge I was under to commit a larceny on those sheltering premises, rose before me in the avenging coals.” (Dickens)

fireplace.jpg

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“Conscience is a dreadful thing when…

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Scenes in the Tarot: Ten of Swords

10 swords radiant

Fiery K. Tarot

I guess Drama is just what I associate with the Ten of Swords, because I’m reminded of it again while listening to Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens.

And at some point I”m going to have to explore why there are so many swords in Great Expectations. So far – swords cards are all I”m reminded of. No other suits. Just swords. And I’ve got another post coming on a Nine of Swords connection now too!

In this scene Pip’s sister is working her way up into a hysteria, and according to Pip it’s VERY calculated the entire way through. Having been in similar situations, I will defend her and say it’s more likely she’s NOT as in control  of herself as Pip  thinks, and most likely is standing in the back of her own head, helpless to stop the momentum. In any case, still a decent example of…

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Scenes in the Tarot: the Seven of Swords

joe and miss h.jpeg
F.A. Fraser – An illustration for the Household Edition of Dickens’s Great Expectations (p. 48). Scanned image and text by Philip V. Allingham

Fiery K. Tarot

When I started learning to read Tarot, it was with the Sacred Circle deck by Anna Franklin and Paul Mason, and the primary keyword they chose to go with the card is

“Diplomacy.”

Franklin and Mason advise tact and diplomacy in dealing with situations if this card appears. In essence, to choose your words wisely in order to convey the illusion you wish to be believed. This scene from the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens reminds me of the Seven of Swords because it’s like Diplomacy Run Amuck!

Poor Joe Gargery is out of his element in this scene, and copes the only way he knows how, which is to fling every high sounding word and phrase he can think of around to use a lot of words to say very little real content. Kind of like the Dark Side of Writing. Joe is also trying to hide that…

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