Miss Havisham is a wealthy spinster who was jilted at the altar, an act which has driven her to live a reclusive life. She lives in a ruined mansion with her adopted daughter, Estella, whom she brings up to hate men and break their hearts, just as she had done to her. This can be seen in this quotation, where she directs Estella – described by Miss Havisham as her pride and hope – to be cruel, hurting men’s emotions by breaking their hearts and showing no mercy in doing so.
Estella was always about, and always let me in and out, but never told me I might kiss her again. Sometimes, she would coldly tolerate me; sometimes, she would condescend to me; sometimes, she would be quite familiar with me; sometimes, she would tell me energetically that she hated me. Miss Havisham would often ask me in a whisper, or when we were alone, “Does she grow prettier and prettier, Pip?” And when I said yes (for indeed she did), would seem to enjoy it greedily. Also, when we played at cards Miss Havisham would look on, with a miserly relish of Estella’s moods, whatever they were. And sometimes, when her moods were so many and so contradictory of one another that I was puzzled what to say or do, Miss Havisham would embrace her with lavish fondness, murmuring something in her ear that sounded like “Break their hearts my pride and hope, break their hearts and have no mercy!”
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