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The Body

Symbol Analysis

There's a lot of attention paid to the body in "Havisham," and all of the bodies in the poem are in a state of decay. Miss Havisham isn't getting any younger, obviously, and she hasn't changed her clothes in decades. The body isn't a source of pleasure here; it's a sign of deterioration, pain, and misery. Fun stuff.

  • Line 3-4: Miss Havisham uses a metaphor, imagining that her eyes have become green pebbles and her veins have turned into ropes for strangling. Green is often considered the color of jealousy and greed. The veins/ropes have a deathly connotation: these body parts are about pain and imprisonment.
  • Line 5: Miss Havisham admits that she stinks – literally. She hasn't changed her clothes in decades. Her odor must be unbearable, and she knows it.
  • Lines 10-13: Here, our speaker imagines the "lost body" of her former fiancé and alludes to the erotic things she'd like to do to it. But this moment doesn't last long. She wakes up harshly with a start. The only pleasant body in this poem is a figment of her imagination.
  • Lines 15: Miss Havisham desires "a male corpse for a long slow honeymoon." What does she want to do with this decaying body? Does she see herself in it? Is a corpse the only male body she could ever get to know carnally? We kind of don't want to know.
  • Line 16: We're told that it's not only the heart that's capable of breaking. Love doesn't just affect us emotionally; we feel it in our organs. And when love is lost, Miss Havisham seems to be saying, the body can break as much as the heart. Miss H's speech (her "b-b-b-breaks") is as broken as her body and her love life.

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