Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Importance of Teaching Values in School Part III of V By Jill Jenkins

The Importance of Teaching Values in School Part III of V
By Jill Jenkins

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

     Another of Charles Dickens’ novels that illustrates that treating others kindly and respectfully is the road to a more fulfilling relationship is Great Expectations.  Joe Gargery is the quintessential example of a healthy, caring person.  Joe is married to Pip’s sister, Mrs. Joe.  Despite Mrs. Joe’s application of “the tickler’ to Pip’s behind and her verbal abuse of both Joe and Pip, Joe remains loyal and caring.  Because Joe’s father had been abusive to his mother, Joe refuses to reduce himself to that level.  Raising his wife’s younger brother as his own, Joe loves Pip and teaches him to work in his blacksmith shop hoping that one day they will be full partners. When Mrs. Joe is rendered a vegetable after Dolge Orlick attacks her, Joe remains loyal and caring until her death. After Mrs. Joe’s death, he marries Biddy, a girl who helps to nurse Mrs. Joe and tutors Pip when he was a boy. She is equally as kind and caring as Joe. 
     In contrast, Miss Havisham let’s anger and revenge rule her life after Compeyson, a swindler, abandons her on her wedding day.  She adopts Estella, the daughter of Magwitch and Molly, and raises her to become a dignified lady whose sole purpose in life is to “break men’s hearts.”  She becomes Miss Havisham’s revenge.  Pip falls in love with Estella.  As she is trained to do, she lures him only to break his heart.  In the end, Miss Havisham burns to death in her worn, yellowing wedding dress that she never removes.  Abandoned by Estella, she is a lonely, bitter woman. Estella marries Bentley Drummle, a rich, but self-centered cruel man or abuses her.   Eventually Bentley Drummle abandons Estella leaving her lonely and alone. 

     Pip receives an opportunity to become educated and cultured. As he wishes Pip becomes a gentleman, not on Miss Havisham’s money as he erroneously believes, but on Abel Magwitch’s money, an escaped prisoner who he helped on the swamp as a child.  
      Pip loses all of his money and position through mismanagement.  It is not the wealthy people of position that he so admires who rescues him.  It is Joe.  He pays off his debt and nurses him back to health.  It is his old friend who Pip once helped, Herbert Pocket, who takes him into his business when his health returns. 
        This book is an excellent example of helping others, and treating others with respect brings people the kind of wealth that really matters.  To help students understand this you could again use a graphic organizer, a Venn Diagram, to help them develop ideas and support them with details from the book.  

  •    Compare and contrast Joe Gargery’s life and qualities to those of Miss Havisham's.  Record them on the circle charts, or compare and contrast Pip and Estella’s life and character qualities.  

Using the information on your Venn Diagram, write an essay comparing and contrasting either Joe Gargery and Miss Havisham or Pip and Estella.  Show how their past and their attitude toward other people affected the outcome of their life.  Make sure you add specific examples from the novel to support your observations.

Other discussion questions that could be used for literary circles or writing assignments include:
  • Pip wants to become a gentleman.  Define the term gentleman and apply the definition to each of the following characters:
    • Joe Gagery
    • Herbert Pocket
    • Mr. Jaggers
    • Bentley Drummel 
    • Abel Magwitch 

  • “But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane, 
In proving foresight may be vain: 
The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, 
Gang aft agley, 
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, 
For promis'd joy!”  Robert Burns
    In this quote by Robert Burns, “the best laid”…plans “of mice and men” often go astray….apply this quote to Great Expectations.  In a well organized and well supported five-paragraph essay discuss how the best laid plans of the following characters did not occur in the way that they had designed or expected them to occur:  Pip, Magwitch, Molly, Mrs. Havisham and Estella.  Discuss what each character expected from their lives and how those dreams were destroyed or changed. 

  • “One who is injured ought not to return the injury, for on no account can it be right to do an injustice; and it is not right to return an injury, or to do evil to any man, however much we have suffered from him.”

    In a five-paragraph essay (containing from seven to ten sentences each), discuss the meaning of this quote by Socrates.  In the first paragraph discuss what the quote means and how one could apply it to Pip.  In the second paragraph explain how Joe lived his life by the idea the Socrates has described and what happened as a result.  In the third paragraph, describe how Mrs. Havisham did not follow Socrates advice as a result hurt herself.  In the fourth paragraph, describe how Mrs. Joe did not follow Socrates advice and as a result suffered a great deal.  In the fifth paragraph, evaluate Molly’s and Magwitch’s behavior deciding if they followed Socrates advice or not and how it affected them.  Use paraphrases and quotes from the book to support your answer.