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Great Expectations by Charles Dickens is a novel that perfectly depicts real-life scenarios that can greatly educate and develop children. The main character is an orphan, Pip, who acquires a vast fortune from an anonymous benefactor. A child would realize after reading the book that good behavior is more important than silver and gold.
Great Expectations first hit the literary world in 1860 but still retains good ratings among critics even in this century. Surprisingly in 2003, it ranked 17th on the BBC’s Big Read Poll.
Great Expectations ranks as one of the best novels by Charles Dickens. The book has received wide acclamation even from critics for its profound teaching on humanity. Charles Dickens seems to believe in retributive justice. Great Expectations teaches that good deeds would come back and benefit you while doing evil would come back and hunt them.
Pip’s “Great Dream” is based on England’s history and social life. Charles Dickson hated injustice and social vices. The author used some characters like Abel Magwitch, Estell Miss Havisham, Pip, and Estella, to bring the story to life. Great writers like George Bernard Shaw commended this novel as being complete and truthful. Many directors have produced movies and tv shows based on this novel.
Pip, a young orphan living with his sister and her husband in the marshes of Kent, sits in a cemetery one evening looking at his parents’ tombstones. Suddenly, an escaped convict springs up from behind a tombstone grabs Pip and orders him to bring him food and a file for his leg irons. Pip obeys, but the fearsome convict is soon captured anyway. The convict protects Pip by claiming to have stolen the items himself.
One day Pip is taken by his Uncle Pumblechook to play at Satis House, the home of the wealthy dowager Miss Havisham, who is extremely eccentric: she wears an old wedding dress everywhere she goes and keeps all the clocks in her house stopped at the same time. During his visit, he meets a beautiful young girl named Estella, who treats him coldly and contemptuously. Nevertheless, he falls in love with her and dreams of becoming a wealthy gentleman so that he might be worthy of her. He even hopes that Miss Havisham intends to make him a gentleman and marry him to Estella. But his hopes are dashed when, after months of regular visits to Satis House, Miss Havisham decides to help him become a common laborer in his family’s business.
With Miss Havisham’s guidance, Pip is apprenticed to his brother-in-law, Joe, who is the village blacksmith. Pip works in the forge unhappily, struggling to better his education with the help of the plain, kind Biddy, and encountering Joe’s malicious day laborer, Orlick. One night, after an altercation with Orlick, Pip’s sister, known as Mrs. Joe, is viciously attacked and becomes a mute invalid. From her signals, Pip suspects that Orlick was responsible for the attack.
One day a lawyer named Jaggers appears with strange news: a secret benefactor has given Pip a large fortune, and Pip must come to London immediately to begin his education as a gentleman. Pip happily assumes that his previous hopes have come true—that Miss Havisham is his secret benefactor and that the older woman intends for him to marry Estella.
In London, Pip befriends a young gentleman named Herbert Pocket and Jaggers’s law clerk, Wemmick. He expresses disdain for his former friends and loved ones, especially Joe, but he continues to pine after Estella. He furthers his education by studying with the tutor Matthew Pocket, Herbert’s father. Herbert himself helps Pip learn how to act like a gentleman. When Pip turns twenty-one and begins to receive an income from his fortune, he will secretly help Herbert buy his way into the business he has chosen for himself. But for now, Herbert and Pip lead a fairly undisciplined life in London, enjoying themselves and running up debts. Orlick reappears in Pip’s life, employed as Miss Havisham’s porter, but is promptly fired by Jaggers after Pip reveals Orlick’s unsavory past. Mrs. Joe dies, and Pip goes home for the funeral, feeling tremendous grief and remorse. Several years go by, until one night a familiar figure barges into Pip’s room—the convict, Magwitch, who stuns Pip by announcing that he, not Miss Havisham, is the source of Pip’s fortune. He tells Pip that he was so moved by Pip’s boyhood kindness that he dedicated his life to making Pip a gentleman, and he made a fortune in Australia for that very purpose.
Pip is appalled, but he feels morally bound to help Magwitch escape London, as the convict is pursued both by the police and by Compeyson, his former partner in crime. A complicated mystery begins to fall into place when Pip discovers that Compeyson was the man who abandoned Miss Havisham at the altar and that Estella is Magwitch’s daughter. Miss Havisham has raised her to break men’s hearts. Pip was merely a boy for the young Estella to practice on; Miss Havisham delighted in Estella’s ability to toy with his affections.
As the weeks pass, Pip sees the good in Magwitch and begins to care for him deeply. Before Magwitch’s escape attempt, Estella marries an upper-class lout named Bentley Drummle. Pip visits Satis House, where Miss Havisham begs his forgiveness for the way she has treated him in the past, and he forgives her. Later that day, when she bends over the fireplace, her clothing catches fire, and she goes up in flames. She survives but becomes invalid. In her final days, she will continue to repent for her misdeeds and to plead for Pip’s forgiveness.
The time comes for Pip and his friends to spirit Magwitch away from London. Just before the escape attempt, Pip is called to a shadowy meeting in the marshes, where he encounters the vengeful, evil Orlick. Orlick is on the verge of killing Pip when Herbert arrives with a group of friends and saves Pip’s life. Pip and Herbert hurry back to effect Magwitch’s escape. They try to sneak Magwitch down the river on a rowboat, but they are discovered by the police, who Compeyson tipped off. Magwitch and Compeyson fight in the river, and Compeyson is drowned. Magwitch is sentenced to death, and Pip loses his fortune. Magwitch feels that his sentence is God’s forgiveness and dies at peace. Pip falls ill; Joe comes to London to care for him, and they are reconciled. Joe gives him the news from home: Orlick, after robbing Pumblechook, is now in jail; Miss Havisham has died and left most of her fortune to the Pockets; Biddy has taught Joe how to read and write. After Joe leaves, Pip decides to rush home after him and marry Biddy, but when he arrives there, he discovers that she and Joe have already married.
Pip decides to go abroad with Herbert to work in the mercantile trade. Returning many years later, he encounters Estella in the ruined garden at Satis House. Drummle, her husband, treated her badly, but he is now dead. Pip finds that Estella’s coldness and cruelty have been replaced by a sad kindness, and the two leave the garden hand in hand, Pip believing that they will never part again.
Differences in social status are a major problem in society today. Understanding the place of social class can significantly help children to manage the challenges effectively.
Pip comes from a poor background and always wants to be outstanding in the crowd and be among the good looking kids. But he doesn’t have the right clothes, shoes and most importantly, the right parents to educate him. In the novel, to be a gentleman, you have to be among the popular and well-to-do crowd. However, Phillip Pirrip later finds out that love is a factor of your attitude, your loyalty, and your affection. He will learn that it is not about how well you are dress and your social status.
As the years go by, Pip meets different kinds of people with different social status and characters. He realizes that good things come to those who exhibit good characters irrespective of their social status. In the book, Bentley Drummle and Compeyson were recognized in society, but they had terrible characters.
Another lesson for children to learn in this book is that what people say about them does not necessarily define who they are. Estella calls Pip “Common,” so he believes he is inferior and common.
The theme of social status can teach children self-esteem, ambition, empathy, and self-improvement. These are moral lessons that can keep them out of harm’s ways and also make them stand out in society. The novel teaches that a person’s real value exists in his or her actions and the love they have and show for other people and not on their social status.
Achieving one’s Dream
Everyone has a dream. Most dreams start in childhood. Great Expectations teaches children on dreams, goals, and aspirations. Achieving one’s dream is a fundamental theme in Great Expectations. Everyone wants to achieve his or her dreams goals and aspirations in life. But most people do not know how to go about it. Turning your dreams to reality comes down to how much dedication, passion, and commitment you put into your goals.
How desperately do you want to achieve your dreams? In other to achieve it, you have to define the steps that you need to take clearly. Also, you need to write them out to remind you every day. Lastly, you need to set targets at all times, and then work towards them.
Young Pip exemplifies dreams and goals. Children can benefit from reading about Pip’s experiences and how he went about his activities. One of the dreams Pip had was to become wealthy. He achieved this when he traveled to London to study. Pip also had a dream of marrying Estella. He tried his best to achieve it in the face of adversities. Estella is very rude to him and never returns his love. However, with determination and perseverance, he succeeds in winning her over, as we saw in the book. When he returned from Egypt and meets Estella in Satis house, she asks for forgiveness.
Redemption is a new beginning. Pip redeems himself when he realizes that he should not judge people based on their appearance. He falls in love with Estelle because of how she looks and perceives her as a woman he can marry. He is also impressed with Miss Havisham because of her wealth and thinks she was his benefactor. When he realizes his mistakes, he blames himself for being a self-swindler. The theme of redemption teaches that people should never be judge for their appearance.
Everyone deserves a second chance. This book teaches children that if you make mistakes in the quest to achieve your goals, you can have redemption. It also shows that those who do not have a purpose in life would just be living a horrible existence. This is exemplified in the life of Miss Havisham. She has no purpose in life. Instead, she is just seeking for pointless revenge against a groom that abandoned her many years ago. She became a pathetic excuse for humanity and lived an un-purposeful life. If she had forgotten about the groom’s incidence, then her life would have had a meaning.
There are two simple ways to get redemption. You can redeem yourself by correcting back the things you have done. Secondly, you can gain it by receiving forgiveness from those you have offended. Miss Havisham redeemed herself by asking Pip to forgive her for all the wrongs she did to him. There are lots of exciting things about the life of Miss Havisham and how her life ended. All of these are great lessons.
At some point in life, people go through difficulties suffer. It is essential for children to learn how to be steadfast amid adversities in other to achieve their goals. Most characters in Great Expectations experienced one form of suffering or the other. This book teaches children that life is not a bed of roses. This knowledge can prepare them in life’s struggles. Sometimes we don’t get what we want. Other times we get them through different routes after a long wait and suffering. Suffering is depicted mainly by Pip.
It is also important for children to know that their actions can cause or prolong suffering. The perfect example of this is in the life of Miss Havisham. She tried to take revenge on all men because her groom abandoned her many years ago. Well, her life was misery at the end. She also made others suffer by training Estelle to break the heart of men, which she practiced on Pip. Estelle also suffers significantly because of her upbringing.
This theme teaches parents and children not to train children in the wrong way. The novel also teaches children against jealousy. Jealousy can cause self-inflicted suffering. Self-inflicted suffering is exemplified in Orlick, who was jealous of Pip and suffered internally as a result.
Growing up is a universal experience where children cross from childhood to adulthood. Charles Dickens shows this by demonstrating the battles Pip fought and the sufferings he went through to find his morals and values. Let your children learn from the experiences of Pip and turn out to be better individuals.
In society today, there are misconceptions about who a parent is. A parent is not just the biological mother or father of a child. It can also extend to someone who takes responsibility or care of a child or a younger person. A parent, whether biological or non-biological, have roles and responsibilities on the child. It means you assume all the rights, powers, duties, authority, and responsibilities that a parent has on a child by law. Today parental responsibilities can also be acquired through adoption, being named in an emergency protection order, or an appointment as a guardian.
In Great Expectations, the author chooses adoptive parents, mentors, and guardians as parents instead of biological mother and father.
Miss Havisham raised Estelle in the wrong way. She trained her to break the heart of men. This caused Estelle and also Miss Havisham to suffer great pains at the end. It is important not to bring up children for your benefit. The theme of parenthood in Great Expectations teaches children how to be good parents when they grow up.
Several characters portrayed good parenting in the novel. Wemmick took complete care of his old parents, which teaches children useful moral lessons today. Joy protected, nurtured, and showed kindness to Pip, which eventually contributed to making him whom he became. And Mathew’s pocket was a good father and teacher to his son. Another character that epitomizes selfless kindness is Provis. He was not involved in raising Pip, but he showed benevolence and dedicated his life fortune to Pip.
From the book, you can realize that those who receive proper training achieve their goals and aspirations in life. On the other hand, those who did not have good parenting mostly lose out.