Liminality in Great Expectations and Wuthering Heights

While everything about Ms. Havisham is greatly interesting, nothing could be more fascinating about her than the clocks that surround her. These clocks are not ticking, but rather, are stuck on a specific time (8:40), which would be precisely when she was left at the altar. The pause is literally representative that her wedding never happened, but even presently, Ms. Havisham’s wedding has never happened. She is quite literally stuck in the moment before her wedding, and she thus acts as both a bride and not a bride, and in that contradiction, she is neither. Simply put, the ritual that would have caused her title to change from Ms. to Mrs. never happened, and the aberrance of the ritual that would have kept her Ms. never happened either. She exists caught between those two facts. All of this is not unlike Heathcliff, who after Catherine’s death exists between both life and death. However, Heathcliff is more proactive than Ms. Havisham as he recognizes he is caught in a liminal space, and seeks to do everything he can to complete the ritual of his love, even going so far as to unearth Catherine’s body. But even further than that, Heathcliff effectively kills himself so that he may escape the torturous liminality he exists in, that of being unable to fulfill his love for Catherine and also being unable to dispel his love for Catherine. Liminality exists definitively within both of these books, and it will be interesting to see how Ms. Havisham deals with her own precarious standing in contrast to how Heathcliff dealt with his.

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