Miss Havisham’s Table

by Chantal

miss havisham's table
Great Expectations
 
“I began to understand that everything in the room had stopped like the watch and the clock, a long time ago.” “Everything within my view which ought to be white had been white a long time ago, and had lost its lustre, and was faded and yellow.”

Charles Dickens – Great Expectations (1861)

This picture is a wonderfully tragic portrayal of unfulfilled hopes and dreams trapped forever, reflected in the clocks she symbolically stopped to all read twenty to nine – stopping her life at the moment of her bitter pain and disappointment.

In a room shut off from all natural light, lit only by candles, Mrs. Havisham’s wedding cake stands on the grand table, covered with dust and cobwebs. The table is to remain this way until she has died at which point she has instructed that she will be laid upon it for her wake. The contrast of the wedding grandeur with the withered bridal flowers and other evidence of decay is both jarring and yet hauntingly beautiful.

Artist Jane Wildgoose pays tribute to Miss Havisham in her wonderful exhibition “Human Nature” and draws parallels with how museums also try and “stop the clock” with their collection and preservation of objects. The Miss Havisham archive can be viewed at The Wildgoose Memorial Library upon appointment.