Gillian Anderson's characterisation of Miss Havisham in the latest television production of Great Expectations has caused some degree of controversy, with many viewers feeling that this beautiful image of a jilted bride is simply too youthful to be an appropriate representation of the woman in the book.
Miss Havisham by Harry Furniss and Break His Heart by H M Brock - two contemporary illustrations from Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations'
However, Dickens never gave an actual age to this wonderful creation whose deliberately sadistic plans for revenge are caused by her own acute pain and loss, having been cruelly jilted on her wedding day.
The VV wonders if our own expectations as to how Miss Havisham should appear are influenced by David Lean's masterpiece when the part was played by Martita Hunt - even though Martita was more or less the same age as Gillian Anderson when she gave her majestic performance in 1946.
Miss Havisham and Pip in David Lean's 1946 film - played by Martita Hunt and John Mills
There have been many others who have played this part over the years - of whom a distinctly stern Florence Reed in 1934 was replaced by the glamorous but menacing Charlotte Rampling in 1999. The VV finds it particularly poignant that the beautiful Jean Simmons who played the young Estella in David Lean's 1946 film went on to perform the part of her 'mother' in a later televised version.
Jean Simmons in 1946 - still, so the VV thinks, the most convincing version of Estella
Jean Simmons playing Miss Havisham in 1989
Now, in 2012, we are soon to be presented with yet another version of the iconic Miss Havisham - this time in the gothic embodiment of Helena Bonham Carter. (Is it just the VV or is there a delicious touch of Bette Davis in 'Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?' in these publicity stills?)
Well, what do you think?
Helena Bonham Carter as Miss Havisham
And finally, as this post concerns modern-day interpretations of a Victorian creation, here is a contemporary poem by Simon Barraclough. Havisham Heart is one of eleven 'Heart' poems and is and taken from his latest collection, entitled: Neptune Blue -
Trouble the dark
and turn me about,
bones under foot.
Orbit the wreck,
the cobwebby sag
of nibbled years
where the mice burrow in
and the spiders rush out,
like the blood used to flow.
Bat dust from the plates,
draw the chair to your place,
take the knife and set to.
For a related post: GREAT EXPECTATIONS ON BBC 1