The Many Manifestations of Ghosts in Great Expectations
Charles Dickens uses Shakespeare's Hamlet to show that there is a parallel between the main character of Great Expectations, Pip, and Hamlet. The fact that both Pip and Hamlet begin as young boys dealing with a tragedy in their lives is only the first of these parallels. Both characters are also orphans in a sense. Hamlet, of course, has only physically lost one of his parents, but he feels as abandoned as Pip does. This abandonment forces both of these characters to become independent, which in turn makes them feel that they can only trust themselves and not others who might have valuable information for them. Hamlet, at first, doesn't trust the ghost of his father and when he finally does, his inability to act for so long causes pain to so many that he cares about. Pip, on the other hand, doesn't have a father, but characters in the novel play this for him. Charles Dickens has these father figures specifically play Hamlet's ghost to Pip as Hamlet. The three people in the novel who play Pip's ghosts, whether Pip knows it or not, are Joe, Magwitch, and Miss Havisham.
Miss Havisham is by far the most intriguing of the three characters to be considered a ghost of Pip's father. From the very first encounter we can see she is a ghostly type when she asks Pip, "Look at me, You are not afraid of a woman who has never seen the sun since you were born?" (Ch. 8). This gives us an image of someone very pale and ghost-like. Also, when Pip is playing cards with Estella, he describes Miss Havisham as sitting "corpse-like" (Ch. 8). These both give the reader the idea that Miss Havisham is more ghost or corpse than she is human.
Unlike the ghost of Hamlet's father, however, Miss Havisham is not a ghost who has Pip's best interest at heart. In Hamlet, the ghost of Hamlet's father wants Hamlet to avenge his father's murder in order to give Hamlet closure in Hamlet's life and to save his very name. The "ghost" of...