Salient Features of the Women Characters in Charles Dickens's Great Expectation



 “It is the real unconquerable rush and energy in a character which was the supreme and quite indescribable greatness of Dickens.” … G. K. Chesterton 

Introduction: The world of Charles John Huffam Dickens’ women in Great Expectation   is mostly drawn from lower middle class life. Their Circumstances are comfortable. They are treated with kindness by their men folk and are provided with all possible comforts and nothing is expected from them but a quite discharge of their household duties. Yet they are quarrel some and ill -tempered and make all about them as uncomfortable as possible. Invariably, they are unintelligent and untaught, even imbecile. Education has done little to improve their intellect or their temper. In such presentation, Dickens is realistic, for in his days, among the poor of London, countless such specimens could easily be found. Even the language which they use is the very language which Dickens must have heard them using in the lodging -houses and slums of London.

Humorously they Joyous:  "Women who might wrecked homes, are shown as laughable foils for the infinite goodness and patience of the men about them” -- Gissing . Dickens treats these women humorously and makes them the source of joyous laughter. These women cause untold miseries to their men folk, but this aspect of the matter is not exhibited by Dickens. Dickens abounds in - women who are a curse to their husbands' lives. There is Mrs. Joe Gargery, the wife of the blacksmith in Great Expectations. She is shrewd of the most highly developed order. She tyrannizes over her husband and also over her little brother any harshness to the boy causes pain to her husband. "It is peculiarity of these women that no one can conjecture why they behave so ill. The nature of the animals, nothing more can be said"-Gissing . She brings about a quarrel between Joe and or lick by a malicious lie. She is not converted but made quite by a half -murderous blow at the back of her head .Further Mrs. Crupp, who does for David in his chambers, is the representative of a very large social class. She stands for the baser kind of London's landlady, a type frequently recurring in Dickens. Her name stands for all dishonesty and uncleanlines. "The monstrosity of her pretensions touches the highest point of the ludicrous".    – Gissing

Sympathetic Towards Women of the Working Classes: With women of the working classes, Dickens is more sympathetic .His sympathy prevents him from criticizing the very poor. He shows the women of the poor at their very best. Generally speaking, these women are blessed with a good temper, the source of everything enjoyable in life. However poor and ignorant, they shed about them the light of joy and comfort. Themselves genial and cheerful, they do much to lighten the sorrow and suffering of poverty.




Eccentrics: Another group of female characters in Dickens consisted of eccentrics of all classes and tempers; they are a source of great mirth for the readers. Miss Havisham in Great Expectations is one of such women. She is an old and withered lady. In spite of her faded look she is always dressed in rich material -satins, laces, silks - all white in colour. Even her shoes are white and she wears a white bridal dress and the bridal flowers in hair are also white. Despite being very rich and grim, she is a broken heart as Compeyson, her lover in tongues her which she gets so humiliated that she shuts out the daylight and starts living like a recluse. To overcome her frustration Miss Havisham decides to take revenge upon the male sex. Her desire to torment everybody through the agony of love which she has expatriated so long makes her an insulting, intriguing, haughty and cold-hearten lady.




Melodramatic and No Sexual Dimension: As George Sampson points out, "the pamphleteer and moralist in Dickens often push out, the artist." Thus he sometime fails over his characters. His serious women characters are often time the conventional virtuous and vicious figure of melodrama. The good are perfectly good and the bad without any pathetic at all. Farther the view of life expressed through the women character tend to be one sided and partial as the novelist shrunk from sex even in its respectable in manifestation . There is no sex his novel. Sex is an important part of life, but it is completely missing from the novels of Dickens. There is no psychological analysis of sexual problems and there are no sexual abnormalities. His novels are 'clean' not likely to bring a blush to most innocent cheeks. But to that extent they suffer as works of art. The picture of life they present is avoiding everything which his age regarded as coarse and vulgar. Dickens' women are missing sexual dimension.

Beloved Maidens:  But such a short coming is intended by another group of female characters consist of marriageable maidens. They are kittenish. They tell little fibs, and smile treacherous little smile, and sometimes shed a tear. But they are lovable all the same. These girls are among Dickens' masterpieces. In their portraits, there is no exaggeration at all; they are entirely true to life. They are realistic portraits of the Victorian maiden; not a word, not gesture goes beyond the very truth. Here Dickens is the realist exemplar. They are so representative, yet so finely individualized.

Conclusion:  Taken on the whole, them, we must pronounce Dickens' women characters as in effective, expect where they are either eccentric or disagreeable. Accepting these qualities, he has contributed some remarkably humorous and not a few genuinely pathetic figures to the world of noveldom. 
 
   Ardhendu De   

Ref: Wikipedia, Encarta: Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults