The Neurosis Of Passion Essay Research Paper

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The Neurosis Of Passion Essay, Research Paper The Neurosis of passion Breaking Patterns of Sterility and Breaking Patterns of Abuse. Charles Dickens novel, Great Expectations, attempts to delve into the Victorian gender construction. Incorporated within this persona is the struggle to break away from the cycles of generations of abuse and patterns of sterility. Through the eyes of his young protagonist, Dickens arranges an immediate gender conflict through absent mothers and deficient mother substitutes as the pivotal female characters in the beginning of the novel; Pip s dead mother, and his caretaker and sister, Mrs. Joe. Later in Pip s adolescence he stumbles into a relationship with miss Havisham, Dickens woman in white, the vehicle through which the author explores women

s struggles with love, pride of nobility, and the issues instilled in them through their parents or caretakers. Miss Havisham s quest for revenge against her fianc drives her to instill within her adopted daughter Estella the incapacity to love so that she will never feel the pain of unrequited desires. Dickens produces an image of women either devoid of femininity and impotent, or love-mad and utterly absurd. The female first described in Great Expectations is Pip s deceased mother. Having never seen his parents he imagines his mother as “freckled and sickly” (Dickens, 3). The novel thus begins with a negative image of women and motherhood. Later Pip introduces his sister and mother substitute, Mrs. Joe Gargery describing her as harsh and unapproachable, far from the mother

of Victorian fantasy. In Mrs. Joe s marriage to Joe the typical male and female roles are reversed. This reversal is pointed out to the reader through her very name to which Dickens affixes the title Mrs. while Joe remains ever casual Joe. Pip s sister is aggressive, domineering, physically and mentally abusive. Pip states, “She was tall and bony, and almost always wore a coarse apron, fastened over her figure behind with two hoops, and having a small impregnable bib in front, that was stuck full of pins and needles.” (Dickens, 8). Here Dickens takes an article of clothing associated with domesticity and nurture and manipulates the object transforming it into devoid of usual maternal traits. He also uses this device with Mrs. Joe s bread knife transforming it into a deadly

dagger. Mrs. Joe consistently reminds Pip that she brought him up “by hand” giving herself rationale for her poor mothering of the boy, with punishments, beatings and verbal abuse. This aspect of Mrs. Joe s character is dramatized in the Christmas dinner scene where she bitterly discusses the trials and tribulations of bringing an unappreciative Pip. She only gives Pip the most unsavory pieces of meat, depriving him of a nurturing meal as he watches those around him gorge themselves with delicacies. Ironically, Mr. Wopsle, one of the guests, moves into a sermon about the gluttony of swine and compares Pip to the beast stating, “Swine were the companions of the prodigal. The gluttony of Swine is put before us, as an example to the young” . . .”What is detestable in a

pig, is more detestable in a boy” “Or a girl,” suggested Mr. Hubble “Of course, or girl, Mr. Hubble,” assented Mr. Wopsle rather irritably, but there is no girl present.” “Besides,” said Mr. Pumblechook, turning sharp on me, “think what you ve got to be grateful for. If you d been born a squeaker –” “He was, if ever a child was,” said my sister most emphatically. (Dickens, 27) This conversation not only records Mr. Wopsle and Mr. Hubble s judgements that Pip is an ungrateful boy tempted by gluttony, but that there is not a female presence in the house to speak of. Mrs. Joe then details each of the illnesses that Pip had “been guilty of”, the nights he had kept her awake, and the injuries he had “done himself” with the implication that all of