This is once again based on the 2011 BBC adaptation of 'Great Expectations.' Is it bad that I'm starting to like the way they did it more than certain aspects of the book (which I'm currently re-reading)? Anyway, there's a scene in that adaptation when Estella and Pip visit Miss Havisham. She greets Estella by asking why she did not come sooner and dragging her into a room to ask for details about the reactions men had when she casted them aside. Estella then adjourns to her room and Miss Havisham chases after her. This is set as Estella sits in her room. I hope you like. I DO NOT OWN GREAT EXPECTATIONS.
It is at times like this that she feels utterly alone. It's absurd of course. Her mother has spent the best part of an hour screeching at her through the door. She is but feet away from her now, ensconced in her own chambers. Pip is downstairs. Poor Pip, alone and awkward down there in the dusty drawing room. But at the moment she cannot work up the strength to face him.
She had known all along what her mother wished, and like the dutiful daughter, who had known nothing else, she had done it. She has told her in vivid detail, all the while hating herself, of how men have cried and fawned over her, only to be spurned and turned away. She has been trained to be cold and made to be cold, and so in those moments she cannot help but feel a sudden rush of glee. Yet, the glee is over quickly and she is left with the broken dreams of some poor soul and an ache somewhere in her chest that feels oddly like guilt.
Heartless people do not feel guilt, she tells herself. It must be something else. The idea that she might have a heart after all is petrifying. Her mother wants her to love her. She cannot. Her mother herself trained her not to love. How can she then think to be an exception? Closing off feeling doesn't work that way. When it is done, no-one can be allowed to slip through. She does not know whether she feels grateful or hateful for what was done to her. People who have hearts can have their hearts broken. She saw that all too vividly as a child, day after day in her mother. Wasting away, suffering agonising heartbreak, living in a past she could not let go. The thought that she might have a heart after all scares Estella, for she cannot bear to think it might be broken. If it did, who was to say she would not be like her? The very thought made her shudder. Unwashed and unkempt, harming herself, flying into rages, bursting into tears. Half-mad, vengeful, spiteful and full of scorn and yet, still capable of love. Estella knew her mother loved her. It was one of several ironies contained in their relationship. But she had robbed Estella of her heart – so she could not love her back. She would not now grow a heart, not now. Not in that space where blackness prevailed. The possibility of damage was far too real.
Laying across her bed, her eyes flickered shut. Everything in this room was left as it had been in her childhood. It was clean, however, unlike the rest of the house. Spotless even. Estella supposed that if Hannah only had one place on which to concentrate her efforts, she would double her efforts. Perhaps even triple them in force. Such silly thoughts! It was strange what the mind wandered to. And with the echoes of her mother's screams, her mind was a torrent of disconnected feeling.
She often wondered, at times such as these, how different her life might have been had she never come to Satis House. If Miss Havisham were not the only mother she had ever known. If the deserted bride had not taken the innocence she must once have had. Taken it and turned it to stone and ice.
She could remember nothing from that time before, though she must have been two, even three, when she first set eyes on the strange lady in the yellowing dress. As was so often the case, dreams brought about half-fragmented images. They were distorted and so out of focus they made her dizzy, even in her sleep. In those dreams, she was so sure she was seeing her life as a small child. Faint pictures of a dark-haired woman and a man with a gruff but gentle voice had assailed her ever since she could remember. That was all she knew of what might have come before, and she kept it to herself as her own little secret. It didn't feel right to share such personal things with anyone else, whether they were real at all or not.
She knew of course that in those days, before Miss Havisham had entered her world and become her mother, she must have had a heart. No baby is born without a heart – not even the children of the cruellest men and women. She didn't believe that a parent could affect who you were if you never knew them. If she were Miss Havisham's flesh and blood, would she wander about with hatred for men in her soul, without ever meeting the ghost-woman? No. And so she knew that none of her true parents' feelings could possibly be contained in her. Could they?
To assess oneself is probably the hardest task. To say what is good is possibly the worst thing. Humans, even such proud humans as she, are programmed to be self-critical. She knew only the bad. That she was cold and jealous and quick to anger. Nurture was the cause of that, she had no doubt. Not nature.
On the other hand, how could she possibly know? These splintered recollections of shady beings – beings she couldn't even positively identify as her parents – gave nothing away. Were they quick to temper as she was? Were they jealous? Were they to the point, like she? She didn't imagine them as cold. She found that an all too 'Miss Havisham-like' quality to bestow upon them. Yes, coldness was the gift her adopted mother had given her. Passed down from one generation to the next, selfishly. As to the rest of herself, she would never know. She strongly believed in nurture being the stronger of two cases, but without knowing what nature held for her, how could she ever be certain?
It was like she was missing half of herself, a half that could never be filled and would be forever blank. She'd never asked her mother about her parents. A madwoman Miss Havisham might be, but she was still her mother. Whether she felt love for her or not, she was quite sure how such a question might affect her, and she didn't wish to deal with that. The only other person she could think of was Jaggers, but she saw him so infrequently, and always with mother near, that it would be impossible.
Oh, why was she even thinking about this? For all intents and purposes she was a Havisham, and such would she always be. Bred, if not born, to be a lady and to be outfitted in the best of clothes. To be married to a rich man, if only to destroy him. To be taught etiquette and fashion and so on and so forth, all the things Miss Havisham herself had no time for, but that Estella needed to complete the ultimate goal. The goal she had been reaching towards since childhood – heartbreak.
It was whilst laying on her old bed, in her old house, staring out the window across the wasted land around old Satis, that she entertained a new most terrifying thought and quickly proceeded to banish it. But it clung on with infected claws to her mind, and she shook her head, physically shook, trying to expel the beast away, lest it penetrate her chest, plant inside the ice and begin the reawakening of her walled-away heart, pushed on by dread:
Would the ultimate heartbreak, said this hideous, clinging thought, be her future husband's? Would it be one of the countless suitors? Would it be Pip? She shivered. Whether at the last name or the next she did not know...
Would the heartbreak, in the end, be hers?
She closed her eyes, but still the question lingered as faces rushed at her in the darkness. Mother's face, Pip's face and Drummle's face. Then those gray portraits again. Those she believed were her parents.
Had they loved her at all, she wondered quite suddenly? Quite uncharacteristically too. To throw her onto this reclusive, hate-filled woman without so much as a by or leave?
'Oh, what does it matter?' she whispered to herself, hissed more like. She hit the real world with such force she wondered why she made no noise. 'What does any of it matter? Heartbreak won't come to me. Heartbreak can't come to the heartless. What a fool I am! What a fool. What do parents matter, real or adopted or any which way? Nothing matters except me and my goals and my -'
There was nothing else. She'd known for years there was nothing else to her, but saying it out loud was altogether different, even just to herself. She and her goals inhabited a world all alone. Miss Havisham might flutter on the edge, like a moth trying to fly towards the flame. In the end though, she would be burnt. So would Pip, so would Drummle, so would anyone, if they kept trying to come too close. She and her goals were tied together, bound. They were all she had. She and her goals would see one another through. In her last moments, she knew, she would think with a smile on all the hearts she had broken, while she, so cleverly, had evaded hurt. Then there would be no time for anyone, certainly no time for nameless faces.
None of it mattered.
That was the outward Estella told herself. She even said it in her mind. Yet, somewhere, in that closed off heart she thought she did not have, it mattered. Pip mattered and Mother mattered. Even goddamned Bentley Drummle mattered, for no other reason than he was a human being, if a sorry excuse for one. Her parents mattered. Because they made up her life, her lonely, pent-up, solitary life.
Because of that, they mattered more than she could say.
Don't really know where this came from! Please review xx