Great expectations – are they a good idea?
In Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations Pip, a boy of humble origins, steadily grows into a man of great ambition. But is he the happier man? Or is it the unsophisticated and uneducated Joe who’s happiest? -the partner of his sister, who raised him. It’s often said that Dickens dedicated his works to railing against social injustices and inequalities.
But he was also playing with philosophical concepts, and obviously societal ones. We instinctively want the ambitious, lowly born person to do well. But should we not also question the ambition, as does Dickens? We teach people that having great expectations is a good thing. Sometimes we even go so far as to praise avariciousness, though we rarely call it by that name. But should we? Are great expectations always good? Or would it be a better thing to teach our young to be content with what they already have?