Monday, October 10, 2016

31 Days of Gothic Romance | Great Expectations

Charles Dickens isn't a name folks immediately associate with gothic romance, but he wrote one. Sort of. Great Expectations certainly incorporates many gothic romance elements, especially around the character of Miss Havisham. Her once great home is in ruins, now full of cobwebs and dead flowers and rotten cake. She's dying too, but trying to preserve the splendor, caught in a moment in time.

Dickens also includes the sinister noble who's persecuting a young innocent, but they're gender-swapped as Havisham brings suffering into the life of our main character, Pip. Of course, her instrument in this is Estella, who's life is also ruined by the old woman. so there's even some of the traditional model at work.

There's also some gothic going on in the character of Magwitch, the escaped convict whom Pip helps at the beginning of the novel. As John Bowen points out in an excellent article for British Library, Pip compares his relationship with Magwitch to that of Frankenstein's Monster and his creator. So while Magwitch isn't noble, he is another sinister figure with power over Pip. And Pip has to wrestle with whether he wants Magwitch to continue having that influence or whether Pip needs to escape it.

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