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by Carol Ann Duffy

Havisham Theme of Love

"Havisham" tells the story of a love gone horribly wrong. On the day of her wedding, Miss Havisham is jilted by her fiancé. She spends the rest of her life obsessing over this love affair gone wrong and is incapable of moving on with her life. Her love is mixed with a strong dose of hate, and much of the poem is about how the two are strangely linked. If you're looking for an optimistic love poem filled with Cupid, flowers, and chocolate bonbons, move along. In "Havisham," love is just about the worst thing that can happen to you.

Questions About Love

  1. Does love destroy Miss Havisham, or does Miss Havisham destroy herself?
  2. What is the connection between love and hate in the poem?      
  3. Is there a connection between the "lost body" of the third stanza and the "male corpse" of the fourth? If so, what is it?
  4. Is "Havisham" a love poem? Why or why not? 

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Miss Havisham is the victim of her cruel ex-fiancé. All of her troubles can be blamed on him.

Yes, Miss Havisham was treated cruelly by her ex, but it was her choice to live the rest of her life in despair.

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